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Legal highs

AKA: NPS (New Psychoactive Substances), Benzo Fury, Ivory Wave, Eric 3, Diablo, Black Mamba, Bubble, Clockwork Orange, Bliss, MXE, MKET, Ocean Snow, Gogaine, PlantFood, Nps, Mdat, Dimethocaine, Bath Salts.

  1. The basics
  2. Highs and lows
  3. Taking legal highs
  4. Legal highs with other drugs
  5. Legal highs and the law

The basics

Drugs formerly known as ‘legal highs’ are chemicals that produce similar effects to MDMAmephedrone or cocaine. Mephedrone itself was a ‘legal high’ before it was reclassified, and the whole group was made illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act of May 2016.

They may be synthetic chemicals, natural/herbal extracts or a combination of the two.

Herbal highs have waned in popularity. You’re now more likely to find a synthetic drug, such as the mephedrone substitute, 2 MK.

Highs and lows of legal highs


These vary widely depending on the chems taken – everything from euphoria, energy and increased horniness to being spaced out, chilled and trippy.


A huge array of side-effects have been reported, with common lows including:

  • paranoia and other temporary psychotic states
  • sickness, nausea and diarrhoea
  • headaches
  • lack of energy
  • confusion, aggression and violence
  • increased anxiety and suicidal thoughts
  • blackouts and hospital admissions.

Substances called Clockwork Orange and Bliss have been linked to collapse, serious poisoning, mental health problems and death.

There really is no way of knowing for sure what you’re taking or what effect it’ll have.

Taking synthetic psychoactive substances

During sex

We know very little about how these substances affect sex, however they’re likely to have a similar effect to the drug type that they’re aiming to replicate – so something that’s marketed as an MDMA substitute is likely to lower your inhibitions and make you feel energetic or euphoric.

These drugs may affect your ability to get and/or keep an erection.

Things to be aware of

These are mostly a range of new chemicals that haven’t been tested on humans in any recognised manner. There’s no way of knowing what damage, both short term and long term, these chemicals can cause. The listed ingredients may be wrong, making them even more dangerous.

With other drugs

Mixing those chems with alcohol or other drugs increases your risk of experiencing the negative side effects associated with synthetic drugs (see Lows).

No longer ‘legal highs’

On 26 May 2016, the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force across the UK.

Those involved in the production, supply or possession with intent to supply and importation or exportation of a psychoactive substance now face a prison sentence of up to seven years.

Next drug: Viagra ››

‹‹ Previous drug: Mephedrone

Published: 08/02/2019
Next review: 08/02/2022