Deaths from legal highs soar by 700 per cent as UK faces new drug crisis

Worrying figures revealed 97 users died after taking the lethal new drugs in 2012, compared to just 12 in 2009.

Last night experts called on the Government to give police the power to shut down “head shops” selling the substances.

The Centre for Social Justice revealed Britain has the highest rate of legal high use among young people in Europe.

They want laws similar to legislation introduced in Ireland in 2010, which saw the number of head shops in the country fall from more than 100 to less than 10.

The number of druggies treated for legal high use has also rocketed by 216% in the last five years.

“Legal highs are destroying lives” Christian Guy

Almost 2,400 users needed treatment in rehab last year, compared to just 738 in 2009-10.

CSJ director Christian Guy said: “This is yet another wake-up call to the dangers of so-called ‘legal highs’.

“Legal highs are destroying lives - it is time to get tough on those making a living out of selling them.

“The UK is already the addicted man of Europe with some of the worst rates of heroin, crack and alcohol abuse - tackling legal highs needs to be a priority.”

In the last five years the number of people in treatment for the use of mephedrone, which was banned in 2010, has risen by 95%.

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