BBC Newsline investigates legal highs with Randox Testing Services
This week, Randox Testing Services opened the doors of its laboratory to BBC Newsline, and Donna Traynor, to offer an expert opinion on legal highs. Legal highs are mood-altering or stimulant substances whose sale is not banned by current legislation. They are made up of various chemical ingredients and replicate a similar user experience of illegal drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine. They are extremely addictive and can have fatal side effects.
April 2016 marks the anniversary of one such case. The tragic passing of Adam Owens, a 17 year old boy who died after taking a legal high known as Sky brought this issue to the spotlight, and now one year on, the BBC want to know what is being done to tackle this issue.
The most difficult issue to combat with legal highs is that their chemical make-up is constantly being altered in order to get around legislation. As they keep changing it is difficult to create tests for these substances as they constantly evolve. Addressing this issue, Dr Mark Piper, Head of Toxicology at Randox Testing Services explained what is currently being done to try and counter this problem:
“We counter it here at Randox by continually developing new tests. In the past 12 months, Randox has developed over 115 new tests for new types of psychoactive substances.
These drugs are continually being developed and evolving into new types of substances which have previously fallen outside of the legislation, so it is a challenge for the likes of ourselves as drug testing laboratories to continually develop new tests to detect these substances.”
The prevalence of legal high use makes this an issue that cannot be avoided. Randox Testing Services are dedicated in their commitment to continually develop new tests in the fight against legal highs.