Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Legal highs 'plaguing' Guernsey, says a former addict


Most prisoners using legal highs

Legal highs are a plague that is ripping the heart out of Guernsey, a former addict has told the BBC.

The BBC has learned the majority of those now entering the island's prison are there because of crimes associated with being dependent on the substances.

Prison chaplain Billy Gilvear said: "They're destroying lives. The users personally and also their families.

"It has definitely been a factor in one or two lives that have been lost recently on this island."

He said he has had enough of conducting funerals for people who have died because of their involvement with legal highs.

A former user told the BBC he was funding his £200 a day habit through selling everything he had, then stealing and ended up sleeping in a public toilet.

Within a month of taking legal drug mephedrone, he suffered anxiety, paranoia and depression.

Those spoken to by the BBC, including prison authorities, Drug Concern, users and Mr Gilvear, all thought between 50 and 100 islanders are addicted to mephedrone, which is said to be more addictive than heroin.

Importing and exporting legal highs for personal use was banned in November after a commercial ban was introduced in April. However, possessing and using them is still legal.

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