Guidance for Novel Psychoactive Substance (Legal Highs) case study
Although this study is about Novel Psychoactive Substances, the main focus is on mephedrone as it is the most common and has recently come under prohibition! The majority of the essay should be focussed on mephedrone.
Introduction (around 300 words):
Provide relevant background information about the topic and clarify the main aims of the assignment, and outline how these aims will be achieved in the case study.
• Talk about the terminology debate – ‘Legal Highs’ as being an inappropriate term for Novel Psychoactive Substances.
• Controversy surrounding the use of the term ‘legal highs’ in the field of drug prevention and research – ‘legal’ implies absence of criminal risks and safety, and ‘high’ implies associated effects are ones of enjoyment- ignores dangerous risks of consumption.
• Emergence of legal highs, who/how many people using them etc, age, gender, ethnicity.
• Mention Drug displacement patterns – legal high users are not a NEW group of users, but rather existing group of users dissatisfied with purity of cocaine/ecstasy moving towards legal highs (mainly mephedrone).
• Mix mag survey – how has ban of mephedrone has impacted upon use
• Also research suggesting injection of mephedrone.
• Talk about perversity of prohibition – ‘successful’ supply reduction of cocaine and ecstasy has led to an increase in the use of under researched chemicals. Research chemists always one step ahead with ability to tweak chemical structures.
• Possible evidence that ban of mephedrone has lead to further displacement towards second generation legal highs
• Legal highs within the gay scene ‘early adopters of new drug trends’
• Talk about typologies of use – lecturer advised us that as emergence of legal highs is a relatively new thing there isn’t a lot of research surrounding this area.
• Unlike heroin/alcohol the literature very recent on types of legal high use and the types currently available are misuse bordering problematic. Discussions are limited.
Problems associated with the case study drug (around 600 words):
Have not been given a lot of guidance with regards to this section – but have been advised to focus mainly on the criminological/sociological problems with NPS’s and not so much the health problems. Although have been told to mention health problems.
• Lack of information on legal highs
• Mephedrone menace
• Young people being criminalised – may not realise what they are buying are illegal
• Problems around drug scare- media frenzy – mephedrone menace
• Articles which talk about dependency on legal highs and whether they are addictive – broader range of problems
• Identify one or two key problems and explore them in detail – need to be criminological/sociological, not medical etc, acknowledge them but do not write about in detail
Good articles to look at are:
Racz, J. Csak, R. Lisznyai, S. (2014) Transitions from ‘old’ injected drugs to mephedrone in an urban micro segregate in Budapest, Hungary: a qualitative analysis. Journal of Substance Use. Early Online DOI: 10.3109/14659891.2014.895872. 1-9.
Van Hout, M. C. Brennan, R. (2012). Curiosity killed M-Cat: A post-legislative study on mephedrone use in Ireland. Drugs: education, prevention and policy. 19. 2. 156-162.
Policy responses / regulatory framework (around 1200 words):
No guidance on this section.
Just – provide a critical discussion of the way in which the drug and the drug user have and continue to be regulated by key pieces of drug legislation and other relevant policies and practices. Please identify how historical and political processes, social attitudes, scientific evidence and media coverage have influenced the regulation of the drug and drug user.
Conclusion (around 300 words):
In the final section, briefly return to the main purpose of the essay in light of the main points / arguments discussed in the main body. Finally, in light of the main findings of the case study where do we go from here (prohibition, legalisation, decriminalisation, tighter controls)?
A list of some good articles and sources – a lot of them are the same as the ones included in the bibliography of my lecturers powerpoint which I have attached:
Van Hout, M. C. Bingham, T. (2012). “A Costly Turn On”: Patterns of use and perceived consequences of mephedrone based head shop products amongst Irish injectors. International Journal of Drug Policy. 23. 188-197.
Alexandrescu, L. (2013). Mephedrone, assassin of youth: The rhetoric of fear in contemporary drug scares. Crime, Media, Culture. 10 (1), 23-37.
Deluca, P. Schifano, F. Davey, Z. Corozza, O. (2009) Legal highs and new recreational drugs: Psychonaut Web Mapping Project. SCANbites, Vol: 6(4), 4-5
Coomber, R. McElrath, K. Measham, F. Moore, K (2013). Key Concepts in Drugs and Society. London. Sage.
Corazza, O. Demetrovics, Z. van den Brink, W. Schifano, F. (2013) Legal highs an inappropriate term for Novel Psychoactive Drugs in drug prevention and scientific debate. International Journal of Drug Policy. 24. 82-83.
Dargan, P. I. Albert, S. Wood, D.M. (2010) Mephedrone use and associated adverse effects in school and college/university students before the UK legislation change. Quarterly Medical Journal. 103. 875-879.
Duff, C., Michelow, W., Chow, C., Ivsins, A., & Stockwell, T. (2009). The Canadian recreational drug use survey: Aims, methods and first results. Contemporary Drug Problems. 36: 517–538.
Kersten, B. P. McLaughlin, M. E. (2014) Toxicology and Management of Novel Psychoactive Drugs. Journal of Pharmacy Practice. Online first. 1-16.
Measham, F. Wood, D. M. Dargan, P. I. Moore, K. (2011a). The rise in legal highs: prevalence and patterns of use of illegal drugs and first-and second-generation “legal highs” in South London gay dance clubs. Journal of Substance Use. 16. 4. 263-272.
Measham, F. Moore, K. Newcombe, R. Welch, Z. (2010). Tweaking, bombing, dabbing and stockpiling: the emergence of mephedrone and the perversity of prohibition. Drugs and Alcohol Today. 10. 1. 14-21.
Measham, F. Moore, K. Ostergaard, J. (2011b). “Mephedrone, “Bubble” and unidentified white powders: the contested identities of synthetic “legal highs””. Drugs and Alcohol Today. 11. 3. 137-146.
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