Gathering to take stand against legal highs

02:57, Apr 03 2014
Southland Times photo
Members of an Invercargill group against legal highs Sarah Haendgen, Tracey Metternick, Diana Macaskill and Debbie Plank with a group of young people who had signed the petition against legal highs.

Invercargill woman Debbie Plank knows firsthand what legal highs can do to a person.

Her son began using the now illegal, synthetic drug Kronic which ended in his admittance into the mental health ward at Southland Hospital after going into full blown psychosis for 14 days.

Plank is one of many people against the sale of legal highs who will be at a rally on Saturday.

She looked after her son for 10 days while the ward refused to admit him.

"I ended up videotaping my son and wouldn't leave until they watched it because they wouldn't take him."

The result was her son being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia after prolonged use of the drug, she said.


She was annoyed politicians were not speaking out about the dangers of synthetic drugs.

"Where is Tim Shadbolt in all of this?"

Invercargill man Colin Heath has seen what legal highs do to educated professionals in their thirties.

He knows people who had lost their jobs because of addictions to legal highs and were too ashamed to seek help for their problem.

"People are using cannabis to deal with the withdrawal symptoms [of legal highs]."

Heath was concerned about the ingredients of the drugs.

"It's similar to Class A drugs in terms of some of its effects."

Sarah Haendgen has a 15-year-old son who has been excluded from school because of using legal highs.

"The board actually said that because he was considered a drug addict he was considered dangerous and could no longer go to school."

Haendgen said the effects of legal highs were not just on the user, but the entire family.

"It's a complete collapse of everything around that whole family."

The rally against the sale of legal highs is on Saturday at 1pm in Wachner Place, Invercargill.


The Southland Times