30 March 2010

Minister for Education must introduce Legal Highs awareness campaign in our schools – Fitzgerald

The new Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan TD, must show leadership and immediately introduce a campaign in every secondary school to inform young people about the serious health implications of legal highs, and advise them to make the right decision and not experiment with these potentially harmful substances, according to Fine Gael’s local Senator Frances Fitzgerald.

“With the growth in popularity of ‘head shops’, which are legally selling products such as mephedrone, ‘spice’ and ‘snow’, the Minister for Education has a duty to highlight, through education, the fact that the vast majority of these substances are not safe for consumption, especially if they are mixed with other drugs and alcohol. The shocking stories about young people experiencing mental health problems, including psychosis, delusions and paranoia, and a number of recent deaths linked to the consumption of legal highs across the UK show just how serious the problem is and it will only get worse if the Government fails to act," said Frances Fitzgerald

“Media sensationalism only serves to make young people more inquisitive about legal highs therefore we must target young people directly and inform them of the cold, hard facts. All schools should be sent an up-to-date educational promotion pack to be used in SPHE (Social, Personal & Health Education) classes, aimed at making young people aware of the serious health risks associated with ‘legal’ or ‘herbal highs’. A simple ‘legal highs factsheet’, similar to that produced by the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland could be produced very quickly, and could save lives," continued Frances Fitzgerald

“I welcome the forthcoming ban on mephedrone and a number of other products being sold in head shops but I believe it will not eliminate the demand for drugs. It will simply mean that suppliers will be cleverer and will find other ways to sell their wares. Just recently, a new Irish website has been set up, selling mephedrone via a free home delivery service.  In China, new drugs compounds are being produced as fast as products are being banned. This problem is not going to go away but we can try to prevent the disease of addiction and further deaths by ensuring that our children know the risks associated with all drugs, both legal and illegal," concluded Frances Fitzgerald.