Educating young people about NPS

The guidance for substance misuse education, Guidance document No: 107/2013, states:

The Welsh Government recommends that the Personal and social education framework for 7 to 19-year-olds in Wales is used as a basis for planning SME. The delivery of the curriculum is delegated to schools. Schools will continue to decide on time given and strategies for learning. Nevertheless, SME should not be delivered in isolation. It should be a planned and integrated part of the curriculum, with effective coordination to ensure continuity and progression in learning across key stages.

Schools should plan their substance misuse programmes to make best use of the input offered by the Welsh Government funded All Wales School Liaison Core Programme.

It is very difficult to keep up with the ever changing availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS), formerly called NEDs. Therefore it is very important that children and young people learn the key messages of substance misuse from an early age.

  • Just because a drug is legal to possess, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. New drugs are just as risky as illegal drugs.
  • Many new psychoactive substances (NPS) contain mixes of illegal drugs and ignorance isn't an excuse for possession
  • Mixing new psychoactive substances (NPS) with medication, drugs or alcohol can be fatal.
  • Medicine is safe to take if the doctor prescribes it for you and you follow the instructions given by the doctor.
  • With illegal and new unclassified drugs the content is not guaranteed and there are no guidelines for consumption. Taking them is a very big risk.
  • Information about NPS on the Internet is not always reliable.
  • The people who make these drugs are only interested in profit, not your well-being.
  • Many of these ‘on sale’ drugs are labelled ‘not for human consumption’ so that dealers (sellers or suppliers) can get around the law and avoid responsibility for any negative consequences or risks.
  • New psychoactive substances (NPS) can be stronger than illegal drugs; they are often purer as they are cheap to produce and need not be cut with anything else.
  • These drugs have not been properly tested to see how toxic they are to humans so there is no way of telling how a psychoactive drug will affect you. We know nothing about the medium or long term effects of using these drugs, we know some of the dangerous short term physical and mental side effects:
    • They can make you confused – so that you will be more likely to have an accident or take dangerous risks
    • Many are stimulants which may stop you sleeping, leaving you exhausted and depressed later on
    • These drugs can have negative effects on mental health – people often say they feel ‘head-wrecked’ after taking these drugs
    • They can be toxic to humans, even ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’ substances can cause damage such as kidney failure, coma and death
    • There is an increased risk if NPS are combined with alcohol or with any substance that causes a ‘high'; including the risk of death
    • Other risks include reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, coma, seizures, and death
    • Because these highs are often new and, in many cases, their chemical make-up is constantly changing, the risks are unpredictable and are often still being assessed.
    • They can cause anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia or even psychotic illnesses