UK: Dramatic shift in drug use trends caused by growth of formerly legal highs says Manchester study

Drug support services need to adapt to the new substance use landscape as homeless users shun injecting drugs for smoking ‘Spice’, while those who engage in ‘chemsex’ are now routinely injecting crystal meth and mephedrone, a new Manchester study shows.

The radical change has coincided with the growth of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and challenges the traditional distinction between recreational and problematic substance use.

A six-month study in Manchester involving drug users and frontline staff found that some homeless drug users have switched from alcohol dependency and injecting heroin and crack cocaine to smoking synthetic cannabinoids (commonly known as ‘Spice’).

Meanwhile, men who have sex with men (MSM) and engage in chemsex, who are commonly associated with the recreational use of drugs (such as ecstasy), have moved onto more problematic injecting or ‘slamming’ of crystal methamphetamine and mephedrone.

The study involved interviews with 53 drug users and 31 staff from a range of organisations – including drug and alcohol treatment services, the police, homeless day centres and sexual health services. Read more via About Manchester