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New psychoactive substances – often incorrectly called legal highs – contain one or more chemical substances which produce similar effects to illegal drugs (like cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy).

The main effects of almost all psychoactive drugs, can be described using four main categories, stimulants,‘downers’ or sedatives, psychedelics or hallucinogens and synthetic cannabinoids.


Also known as: Plant food, NPS, MDAT, Eric 3, Dimethocaine, Bath Salts

Although some of these so-called ‘legal highs’ were legal in the past, since the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect on 26 May 2016, none of these drugs are legal to produce, supply or import (even for personal use, e.g. over the internet) for human consumption.

This includes selling them or giving them away for free (even to friends) when they are going to be taken to get high.

The ‘legal highs’ that were made illegal as class A, B or C drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act, are still covered by that legislation. All other psychoactive substances not currently covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act will fall under the Psychoactive Substances Act.

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Can put a strain on your
heart and nervous system.

Can make you anxious, confused and cause paranoia and psychosis.

Downer NPS can also cause
unconsciousness, coma and death.

Can cause severe withdrawal syndrome in heavy drug users.


Feel overconfident and disinhibited, which can make you take risks.

Affects your immune system, so you might get more colds and flu.

Behave erratically and put your own safety at serious risk ( self-harm)

Many risks from NPS are unknown.