Mother warns of highs horrors

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:00 15/05/2014

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A Palmerston North mother has spoken out about the damage caused by legal highs after her son developed an addiction with serious consequences.

Michelle Escott was yesterday part of a panel which led a discussion in Palmerston North following the recent ban on psychoactive substances.

Two public meetings were held in the city offering information on addiction services, and for organisations to provide support and information.

"My son had a good job, he was under-age but they have shady people outside the shops who, for a fee, would provide for them," Escott said.

"I didn't like it but I didn't understand it and it was legal so it was a step better than drugs, you would think. It progressed really quickly because he was earning good money and he was spending a good $400 on his pay night."

Escott said her son's kidneys broke down over a couple of months and he was in extreme pain and on antibiotics.

"But he was straight back out," she said. "He lost his job, although they gave him three chances.

"Meanwhile, family members were having stuff stolen."

Escott said her son had been off synthetic cannabis for three weeks and was awaiting a place in a rehab centre.

"While it was on the shelves, there is really not much you can do," she said. "And even though it's not on the shelves, it's still around and I think it will be for a while."

Escott has established a Facebook group to support other parents: ‘Palmy Proud, help solve palmys legal high problem'.

MidCentral Health Alcohol and Other Drug Service clinical lead Ann Flintoft led a presentation on synthetic drugs.

"We have fielded a lot of [calls from] concerned family members who have been shocked by the changes in personality of their loved ones," she said.

"It's very frightening for family members, especially younger people who are around them.

"Now we are in the situation where, potentially, those who have got a lot stockpiled could be considered a supplier and at risk of a conviction."

The Psychoactive Substances Amendment Act was passed under urgency in Parliament last week, ordering all psychoactive substances removed from sale and banning the testing of such products on animals.

One mother told the panel her daughter was coming out of rehab after nine weeks but had no support service to rely on afterwards.

And a health provider told the panel that her clients were being turned away from addiction and accommodation services because "they had burnt their bridges, or there is no room, or they don't meet their criteria".

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For advice, call the Alcohol and Drug helpline, 0800 787 797, see your doctor, or in a crisis call the Mental Health Foundation, 0800 653 357.

- Manawatu Standard

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