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A Criminal Element Continues...

Legal Highs, Autistic Lows

By Denise GregoryPublished 7 years ago 3 min read

In my previous blog, I touched upon how autism has affected my son and highlighted the problems we have encountered as a family regarding substance misuse, school avoidance and criminality.

This blog, however, is a little different as it highlights my son's addiction to legal highs and the battle which ensued in which I became proactive in helping to secure their criminalisation.

I discovered my son was dabbling in a legal high known as spice in 2013. It was after the murder trial in which my son was a key witness. Although I tried to encourage and signpost him to relevant help and counselling following what he'd witnessed, he flatly refused. During this time he was nonsensical as opposed to lucid the vast majority of the time and to all intents and purposes rendered him barely able to function and grind to a halt both emotionally and mentally. Physically, he became gaunt, unable to eat and became desperate for money most of the time and became verbally abusive accordingly.

As mentioned, he refused to accompany me to Addaction, although he did speak to the practise nurse at our surgery on one occasion. I then decided to create an awareness campaign to highlight the dangers and signpost help to the relevant agencies. The legal high shop that was formally here in Weston-super-Mare supplied children and also allowed them to use a "tab" system to purchase their chosen substances in advance, provided collateral was left in their charge such as mobile phones or bank cards. At this point I contacted North Somerset Trading Standards, my local Cllr, plus other agencies such as AS police and NS social services. Evidence of discarded packaging was collected from notorious antisocial behaviour hot spots in the town and handed to NS TS team. An investigation ensued. Raids were successfully executed and the premises closed down in regards to selling and distributing these substances. Although I understand unscrupulous dealers could still secure substances online and sell them freely, my thought was "at least it can be policed now."

It was during this time of the campaigning that I found my son looking through my material on the laptop regarding Spice and other legal highs and he then began to take stock of his addiction. To my surprise he became proactive in my campaign and was starting to share my posts on his Facebook account and has actually advised people on how to deal with the unpleasant withdrawals, which he was dealing with himself. The withdrawal was absolutely harrowing. It was almost like he was withdrawing from class A's as he battled similar symptoms such as sickness, diarrhea, sweating profusely, clammy and he experienced dreadful body cramps and spasms. This lasted roughly 4-5 days before he started to feel a little better in himself.

He conquered his addiction whilst waiting for his case to be heard in court relating to an offence committed whilst he was heavily under the influence of Spice and as a result of that particular event he served a custodial sentence at Vinney Green secure unit in 2014. He arrived at VG weighing little over seven stone, and upon discharge was a healthy nine stone and seven pounds and looked extremely well and healthy, despite his type 2 brittle Asthma. He has not touched Spice since.

It has left its mark though as he has residual respiratory damage and lasting mental health issues that I firmly believe was caused by the substance itself. My son's autistic meltdowns were impacted and doubled ten fold during usage.

Two of his friends with whom he used to use with have since committed suicide. Legal high use is now at an all time low here, yet the damage caused to individuals using them is still very apparent.


About the Creator

Denise Gregory

Army brat, daughter of a former officer with the British Army, keen photographer, albeit a novice. Science geek, practising Whovian! Monty python, Spike Milligan and a goon fan! Satirical political views!

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    Denise GregoryWritten by Denise Gregory

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