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Articles > Latest research May, 27, 2016

Spice, Meow Meow And Hippy Crack Are Banned – Will It Stop You?

Louise Dunne
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6.13 / 10

We’ve all witnessed seas of those small laughing gas canisters, sprayed across festival fields or your mate’s living room after their big house party. But with legal highs now being banned, is this the last you’ll see of them? Probably not! Our research with YMCA (reported in the Independent and BBC News) has found that two-thirds of young users won’t take no for an answer, and will use them in the future despite them being illegal. Read on for the findings…

laughing gas canisters

Photo by Rob Brewer

We interviewed over a thousand 16-24 year olds, 64% said the ban would not stop them from using the same substances, and of those who had taken legal highs, 57% started between the ages of 16 and 18. And if you thought that was young, a small number of people even reported starting using them under the age of 11.

“If it wasn’t for legal highs I would probably still be in school.” – Emily, 18, North East

Also, 68% of legal highs users stated ‘Laughing Gas’ as the substance they use most, and said experiences with it are short lived and relatively harmless. Other ‘psychoactive substances’, like Spice and Black Mamba, on the other hand were reported to have the greatest impact on health and well being:

“I had about three drags of a joint and I ended up locking myself in the toilet of a bus station in town crying. I was scared, my eyes were really red, I didn’t really know where I was.” – Leah, 17, Yorkshire and Humber.

Where does all this ‘getting high’ go down you ask? Well we found it was predominately taken in social situations like house parties (43%), a friend’s house (35%) and music festivals (21%)… probably to show Avicii they were cool. It may also be due to 41% of users finding that it had a positive impact on their relationships with friends.

So, are you surprised by the latest piece of research? Do you think the blanket ban on ‘legal highs’ will have a positive impact? Leave your comments below (anonymously if you wish).


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  1. Sara

    Mind altering substances, regardless of their classification are going to experimented and used by young people. The visual appeal alone is enough to intise someone to a) began a curious thought pattern regarding the ‘fun’ and ‘attractive’ substance and b) the stories and controversial pictures of their peers having a ball on social media will have an impact on a young persons attitude to try and misuse substances.

  2. Elizabeth Stanger

    If people are still taking illegal drugs, such as Cocaine and MDMA, what is to stop them taking legal highs when they get banned too? It may effect the amount of users and it means law enforcers have the right to intervene now, but as long as the drugs are accessible there will always be users.

  3. Tabitha Barber

    This is going to make no difference. People who want to use drugs are going to, Legal or not. Ironically by making them illegal, all they’re doing is making them more attractive and more rebellious to take. Why does the government on blanket bans when most drugs are not dangerous. Sure you could huff too much laughing gas, but by making it illegal it means you can’t control it, can’t educate about how much people should take, so more people get hurt.
    The war on drugs isn’t a war on chemicals, it’s on people.

  4. Josh Sales

    I think…there will always be loafs of these things about there’s no stopping them!

  5. Ben Whiteley

    People do realise that ‘hippie crack’=nitrous oxide=the gas in ‘gas and air’. They give it women freely when giving birth. The only difference is that when used recreationally it isn’t mixed with air, but that’s why you don’t sit there breathing in and out of a balloon. Regardless of what is in a balloon, breathing in and out of it will kill you. If you’re stupid enough to do that then it’s probably best to remove yourself from the gene pool.

    Basically, people are always going to want to get high. Should let them have cannabis and ecstasy which do not have any physical dependency, then use the millions wasted on controlling drugs each year to educate responsible usage.

    Finally, don’t think that drugs are banned for our welfare, alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous, and the industries spend millions each year lobbying the government on legislation like this, and advertising the dangers of drugs.

  6. rajashekar reddy

    I think…good

  7. Barry Robbins

    I think…this is a brilliant article

  8. Sagar

    I think…For the most part the reduction of people using the substance will decline in the short term but ultimately numbers will return to normal and even rise. Since banning somthing doesn’t stop people from getting what they want rather it makes it more dangerous since substances aren’t regulated in the streets.

  9. Bridget

    I think…obviously people are still going to do legal highs just like people still do illegal drugs. If people want to be silly enough to do drugs and potentially ruin their health and/or life then we should not give them the attention of satisfaction. They know the health risks and social risks and there are no other ways to get it across to them. At the end of the day we can tell them not to do it but if they don’t listen it is their own fault. I understand some drugs are used medically, however, these drugs are prescribed by a doctor and are given in medicinle amounts, not amounts where you will be off your face and not even remember the night.

  10. eissa

    This is some kind of a sick joke

  11. Matthew Roberts

    I think adults (18+) are treated like children regarding any kind of drug use…as a fully grown adult you should have full access to properly researched effects on the body short and long term. I think that is the problem is that people don’t know what this stuff will do to you…They should also have access to these drugs produced to a high standard, by the government, meaning all money made from it can go to combating the drug use. This not only makes it safer, but only creates revenue and jobs for people. Making all these drugs illegal only pushes it into the hands of criminals, who couldn’t give two shits about it being a good quality product, meaning these drugs become tainted with worse and worse chemicals. This blanket ban is a poor decision taking us in the complete opposite direction from where we should be heading in 2016.

  12. Lara Hobbis

    I won’t use them but I doubt that making them illegal would cause a drop in the number of people taking them. If you want to take them, you will, regardless of legal status.

  13. erik peternel

    I think…its a brilliant article

  14. Jasmine Zammit-willson

    I think…it is an interesting thought.

  15. Eric Waiswa

    I think…This is some kind of a sick joke. The people who will be affected most by this are those who innocently supplement to improve their sleep, studies and wellbeing. Anyone who buys these to get high is quite simply just going to turn to illegal alternatives. More people are harmed from alcohol in a month than legal highs have harmed in years. The solution isn’t banning a substance… it’s education, research and creating an environment in which they aren’t attractive.

  16. Vincent smart

    I think.. a total ban on legal high, isn’t the solution. since some people feel good taking it and has no adverse effect on their health and likewise on their environment, i think there should be a kind of restriction on the quantity, places, and age groups that can take this product. And also a recommended and approved stores that can sell the product, likewise a monitoring team.

  17. Ose

    I don’t think “legal highs” should be banned cuz alcohol and tobacco cause much more harm
    as long as noone is reported for harming or being harmed, it shouldn’t be banned

    i didn’t even know there were so many substances with funny names lmao

  18. Abdul Moiz Javed

    I think…that laughing gas can be dangerous if not controlled so its good to ban it rather than risk peoples lives. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY.

  19. kimia roozegar

    I think…this is actually stupid and defitnely should be legal in uk because people will always need it