Party drug users - numbers double in two years

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THE number of local people overdosing on so-called party drugs has doubled in the last two years.

Figures released by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust show that 26 patients were admitted to hospital for poisoning with recreational stimulants in 2011, but this had soared to 59 last year.

And in the first six months of the year alone, another 28 people have been rushed to A&E suffering from the effects of mephedrone and ecstasy,

But figures show that the use of certain drugs was declining. In 2011, 21 people needed treatment for the effects of mephedrone (the then legal high nicknamed miaow-miaow) and ecstasy, four for ketamine and one for GHB.

Last year, no one was taken to hospital for using GHB and three sought medical care for ketamine.

So far this year, only mephedrone and ecstasy was the contributing factor for hospital treatment.

However use of other party drugs has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and has sparked major concerns after it has lead to several deaths,

In January this year, Jordan Chambers, 19, and Gaz Ashton (also known as Gareth Evans), 28, both of Poolstock, died just hours apart, after they had taken brightly-coloured, heart-shaped ecstasy pills which came in purple, green, yellow and red colours.

There have been a total of 13 deaths this year across the country as a result of overdosing on party drugs.

The most recent were Jennifer Whiteley, 27, of Sale, and 29-year-old Gemma Hurst, of Newcastle, last month,

Leading health experts in Wigan are working hard to prevent the use of drugs and highlight the tragic consequences.

Dr Kate Ardern, director for public health at Wigan Council, said: “We work really hard in the Wigan borough to reduce drug abuse and prevent deaths occurring because of it.

“We work with hospitals, the police, the criminal justice system and other agencies to identify and offer help to those who misuse drugs.

“We also have an active substance misuse service that works in communities to warn people of the dangers of drugs and support those affected by addiction and abuse.

“If you, or someone you know, has a problem with the misuse of drugs please phone 0800 389 4463 to get help.”

A spokesman for WWL NHS Foundation Trust said: “As there is limited evidence available about many of the newer drugs available, we are unsure of what the potential health risks and long term effects could be.

“Many of the patients we see have often consumed alcohol prior to drugs being taken.

“Patients who have taken substances attend A&E in a state of collapse, agitation or confusion, experiencing hallucinations, psychosis or sometimes seizures.

“Early this year, after the highly publicised deaths from ecstasy in the Wigan borough, the A&E department received a number of people, who had taken the drug but were not symptomatic.

“The young people concerned were offered ECG and blood tests to check for abnormalities, together with reassurance and advice. None of the people who presented were admitted.

“We believe that the increase in attendees this year may be a result of personal anxiety and people requiring comfort and check-ups after taking substances.

“Once medically fit, patients are offered referral to Wigan and Leigh Recovery partnership (substance misuse services).  

“We would like to urge the public not to take illegal/party drugs. They can contain poisons and illicit chemicals, which are potentially life threatening. “If anyone suffers adverse effects, after taking these substances, it is important that they seek urgent medical assistance.”

For free confidential information and advice on mephedrone, ketamine, ecstasy, or any other drug visit www.talktofrank.com or call the FRANK helpline on 0800 776600 or text a question to 82111.