Angelus Welcomes ITV Tonight's "Blowing the Lid" on Legal Highs Industry

Oct 16, 2013, 19:01 ET from Angelus Foundation

LONDON, October 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

The Angelus Foundation welcomes the broadcast of the ITV Tonight programme 'Dying to get High' on Thursday 17 October, highlighting the horrors the epidemic of legal highs presents to families throughout the UK. This expose will leave parents under no illusion that their young are in serious danger of being robbed of their mental wellbeing; and potentially even their lives.

Experimenting with legal highs has, in many places, become part of youth culture. Last year, in England and Wales, there were 52 deaths from legal highs, compared to 29 the previous year, and a further 47 in Scotland. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime last month estimated the numbers of young people in the UK (aged 15-24) who have taken a legal high as 670,000 - making us the highest consumers in Europe. As well as loss of life, these substances can cause anything from long-term psychosis, paranoia, deep depression, irreparable bladder damage and impaired eyesight.

Angelus is the only charity dedicated to raising awareness of legal highs and club drugs. Today, Angelus is able to help the deep concerns of parents by launching the free handbook 'Talking to your Children about legal highs and club drugs', in partnership with the charity Adfam and the Club Drug Clinic, which can be downloaded. Without adequate knowledge, parents are in the dark about the signs to look out for and are unable to have informed conversations with their children, to keep them safe.

'Dying to get High' shows how the same product can contain a wide variety of ingredients with wildly differing effects and potential harms. It also shows retail 'headshop owners'' reckless attitude to their customers - they are able to evade prosecution by labelling their products 'Not for Human Consumption' when clearly that is their purpose. As fast as they are banned, chemists tweak the molecules and launch new products.

The founder of Angelus, Maryon Stewart said: "The Government keeps congratulating itself on how well its drug strategy is working. They are conveniently ignoring the massive increased use of legal highs and are complacent about their impact on young peoples' lives. These hideous substances that masquerade as legal are instead often a cocktail of Class B drugs and toxic chemicals, leaving young people often playing Russian roulette with their lives."

"We know the UK has the highest population of people taking legal highs in Europe, that there has been a huge increase in shops and websites selling these dangerous, unpredictable substances and that our children have never been at a greater risk of harm. Yet the Government resists any action against their supply and refuses to take responsibility for raising awareness. The ITV Tonight programme is blowing the lid on the whole industry. They have done every parent a service by exposing this pernicious trade for what it is: exploitative and dangerous." said Maryon.

Notes to Editors:

1) The author and broadcaster Maryon Stewart lost her 21-year-old daughter, Hester, to GBL in 2009 and established the Angelus Foundation. It is the only drugs charity dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs and launched a national campaign in October, including the website There is also a site for families:

2) The ITV Tonight programme 'Dying To Get High' is to be broadcast Thursday 17th October 7:30pm to 8:00pm. "An investigation into the world of legal highs - chemicals designed to mimic the effects of drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis - that are widely available on our high streets across the UK. They arrived on the scene in 2008 and their popularity has grown rapidly with up to 700,000 young people thought to have experimented with them. Last year more than fifty deaths were linked to so-called legal highs as the lawmakers struggle to keep up with manufacturers and suppliers, many of whom are exploiting the legal loopholes. Fiona Foster talks to a bereaved mother whose daughter died after taking a legal high."

3) The Angelus parents booklet, produced in partnership with Adfam and the Club Drug Clinic, sets out the context of legal highs and how to hold conversations with young people about them. A Mentor survey showed 58% of 11-15 year olds looked to their parents for advice on drug matters. It can be downloaded for free at .

4) The UN Office on Drugs and Crime last month estimated the numbers of young people in the UK (aged 15-24) who have taken a legal high as 670,000 (or 8.2 percent) - the highest in Europe.
Twitter: @maryonstewart
Twitter: @angelustweets
Twitter: @whynotfindout

The Angelus Foundation is a UK registered charity
Registered in England and Wales no. 1139830

If you wish to interview Maryon Stewart, please contact:
Aimee Gentry at the Angelus Foundation on:
T: +44(0)845-1771070
E: or

SOURCE Angelus Foundation