New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

NPSs (often known as legal highs) contain one or more chemicals which can have similar effects to illegal drugs like cocaine, cannabis and ecstacy.

In May 2016, the New Psychoactive Substances act came into force, making it illegal to supply any 'legal highs' for human consumption.  It is now an offence to sell or give NPS to anyone, even for free.  Punishments carry up to seven yours in prison.

NPSs can carry serious health risks.  The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used before in drugs for human consumption so they've not been tested to see if they're safe.  They can cause paranoia, coma, seizures and, in rare cases, death. 

What do they look like?

They are packaged in small, brightly coloured packets and have a grand name.  'Spice', (a nickname for synthetic cannabis) is a dried plant that has been sprayed with chemicals and looks like chopped herbs, in some cases it is sold as an e-liquid.  Other stimulant  or psychedelic NPSs re sold as capsules pills or powders. 

What are the risks?

You can't ever be sure of what's in a 'legal high' that you've bought, or been given, or what effect it's likely to have on you or your friends.  

Some cause anxiety, panic, confusion and paranoia as well as putting a strain on your heart and nervous system.

Other slow down your reactions making you feel lethargic, forgetful and unsteady, these sedative type of legal highs also cause unconsciousness and in rare cases death.

Some pyschedelic NPSs make you feel like your body and mind are separated, interfering with your judgement and putting you at risk of acting carelessly or dangerously.

Your risks are increased if more than one type of NPS is used or combined with alcohol or another psychoactive drug. 

Did you know?

As with all drugs, using NPS can become a habit.  Some are physically addictive and can cause withdrawal when used regularly.

Like drink-driving, drug-driving is illegal because it puts your own and other people's safety at risk.  You could still be unfit to drive after the day you have used them.  You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison for drug-driving. 


For friendly, confidential advice visit the FRANK website.


If you are concerned about your drug taking or that of someone else, contact One Recovery Oldham:

  • Phone: 0161 716 3666 

or visit them:

The Gateway,
Horsedge Street,