Mother nearly died after one inhale of 'legal high' drug
PUBLISHED: 09:45 11 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:31 11 February 2015
A WESTON mother-of-two is ‘lucky to be alive’ after her heart stopped three times when she inhaled a ‘legal high’ she thought was a cigarette.
What are legal highs?
* They are man-made chemicals which mimic the effects of banned substances. But they have a slightly different chemical structure, and so fall out of legislative control.
* They are designed to look like the illegal drugs they mimic and can be found as a colourless liquid, powder, tablets, crystal, vegetable matter, capsules or paper ‘tabs’.
* It is legal to sell them, but not for human consumption, and not to people aged under 18.
* The Government has cross-party support for the introduction of new legislation banning the import or onward distribution of these substances which is expected by early 2016.
* When someone takes a legal high, they do not know the short or long-term effects it will have on them.
* The effects can include depression, delusions, self-harm, mood swings and paranoia – and some people in the UK have died after taking them.
* They can be as addictive as illegal drugs.
Sophie Beck, whose life was saved thanks to her siblings knowing CPR, has launched a campaign to warn people about the ‘dangerous’ substances after her near-death experience in January.
The 22-year-old of the Bournville estate, was at a party when she was handed what she thought was a cigarette. But after just one inhale, she felt dizzy and had to sit down, before her heart stopped for the first time.
She said: “I had one drag and instantly it had me. It looked like a normal roll-up cigarette.
“I remember needing to sit down and I was freaking out about it but that was it, and my brother said they were doing CPR to me while on the phone to the paramedics.
“I had a reaction to the chemicals which shocked my heart and attacked my lungs.
“I am really lucky to be here.
“I wouldn’t be here if my sister hadn’t known CPR.”
Miss Beck said they found out the drug was called Spice, but no-one knows exactly what chemicals caused her to have the reaction.
She said: “The hospital didn’t know what they were dealing with. That’s what they were so concerned about.
“I felt stupid when I woke up. I apologised because I knew they were finding it difficult with beds and stuff. It was all very scary.”
She has now set up a Facebook page called Legal High Awareness and Campaign and hopes to create a petition against the drugs.
As a mother to Oscar, aged five, and two-year-old Charlie, she is worried about children getting their hands on the drugs, even if it is illegal for shops to sell them to people aged under 18.
She said: “What I am worried about is the younger age group, as all they see is the word ‘legal’ and don’t know the dangers.
“They think if it’s ‘legal’ then it must be okay.
“I know it sounds horrible, but I don’t think it will be long until someone dies.
“It only takes for someone to buy it on the corner and drop it. And the packaging is brightly-coloured, so children could pick it up after school.
“Someone could smoke it and end up leaving their children behind.
“When I woke up in hospital, I thought ‘this is what I’m meant to do’ to start a campaign.
“I would like to see legal highs banned completely.”
Miss Beck’s campaign is being supported by ward councillor James Clayton.
He said: “She has shown real bravery by sharing her story.
“In doing so, she has highlighted the dangers of legal highs.
“The common misconception is often because they are legal, they must be okay.
“We now have shops in Weston and Facebook pages selling legal highs and it is a great concern.
“It is becoming a problem for social services, the police and NHS.”