*IMPORTANT! PLEASE SHARE*
I've noticed this Manchester Evening News article doing the rounds about the Spice (synthetic cannabinoid) epidemic in Manchester and how you (MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC) can help.
Whilst much of the information contained within this report - collected from Manchester City Council and the Ambulance Service - is very good, I was stunned to see the following advice given:
'If the person is clearly on a bad trip, hallucinating or anxious, take them somewhere quiet where they are likely to feel safe and try to calm them down.'
DO NOT EVER DO THIS!!!! EVER!!!! EVER EVER EVER!!!!!!
Do not confuse this vile drug with cannabis in any way shape or form - the name is misleading and the two substances are worlds apart. The drug Spice would be better named 'Take the Devil Into Your Veins'.
Whilst there have been few scientific studies of the affects of drugs such as Spice, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (UK Gov) advise that people who have used synthetic cannabinoids and have been taken to emergency rooms have shown SEVERE effects including:
-Rapid heart rate
I agree that it is hard to stand by and watch our homeless community destroyed by a poison which turns them into psychotic zombies. What I don't agree with is that the general public is now being advised to put themselves at serious risk of harm by responding to this issue themselves. This is a new level of insanity.
However much we may want to help, IT IS NOT the general public's responsibility to attend to people with serious drug abuse and dependency issues, especially whist they are experiencing full-blown psychotic episodes. I'm sorry, but this specialist job should be reserved for the the specialists ONLY - the council and public funded organisations who are trained and paid to deal with such situations.
To attempt take someone you don't know who is having a psychotic episode as a result of taking Spice 'somewhere quiet to calm down' is akin to getting into a lion's cage with a big piece of steak. You have absolutely no way of knowing how this person will react, whether they will become violent or whether they are carrying weapons - even the gentlest of souls feel the need for protection when sleeping outdoors. In Los Angeles, someone went for me with a glass bottle whilst under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids. I was lucky, but shaken up for days afterwards.
Spice in Manchester is not a new problem. Until very recently, this drug has been freely available to buy cheaply and legally at the local corner shops. When I supported Gary Neville's Manchester Stock Exchange Homeless Initiative at the end of 2015, it was being openly smoked by the homeless community and I was exposed to the drug in all of its glory. I was horrified by what I saw. 18 months later, with no solid plan of intervention implemented, look where we are.
In the same way that officials have quietly handed over responsibility for caring for the homeless into the hands of well-meaning members of the public, they are now expecting to do the same with the Spice epidemic.. This cannot go on.
If you really want to help homeless people and those who are who are suffering with synthetic cannabinoid addiction in Manchester, ask the local council and the local councillors to step up and provide a plan of address which will tackle head-on the lacking in support and rehabilitation options for affected individuals.
If we don't lobby for change now, where will the homeless situation in Manchester stand in another 18 months?
Please see https://www.drugabuse.gov/…/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids for further information about synthetic cannabinoids and if you have a problem with Spice please seek medical help from your doctor.