Extreme challenges in battle against Spice

An ever changing recipe is among the nightmares facing the workers battling '˜zombie' drug Spice.

Monday, 10th April 2017, 9:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:46 pm
Video footage has emerged showing people apparently under the influence of Spice in Blackpool

On Saturday, The Gazette reported how Spice was being used openly on the streets of Blackpool.The spread of the drug, which has gained notoriety in recent weeks for the effect it has on some users, is a matter of concern for those working with Blackpool’s most vulnerable residents.Nicky Dennison is a senior public health practitioner with Blackpool Council.She has a leading role with the town’s drug and alcohol service and knows what challenges her team face.She said: “This is no more or less of a problem in Blackpool than in any other town.“Spice is not a particular concern because we cannot say it is any more prolific on the streets than any other drug.“We are reaching out to individuals to encourage them to go into treatment and manage issues with dependency.“We work with community safety, with the enforcement team to address illegal action.“But we also want to try to get these people help.”That task is not always easy.Users are often from a chaotic background and may not even realise their Spice use is illegal and potentially extremely harmful.“They might not even know this isn’t legal any more,” said Nicky. “In most cases we see dual use, so Spice is being used with alcohol or other drugs.“It is a hard group to reach. They might not realise they have a problem.“In some cases people might not want our help.”Nicky said Spice, which is a synthetic version of cannabis made by spraying chemicals onto dry leaves which are then smoked, can cause serious psychological problems.She said: “It’s synthetic cannabis with a stimulant added.“What you get is a substance which messes with the mind.”And through the mind is currently the only way experts can treat those who are using the substance.Nicky said: “Treatment is very difficult. The chemical make up is constantly changing.“That makes it difficult for the emergency services when they are dealing with an incident involving Spice.“There is no response to the drugs they could use.“In terms of treatment services it’s not like heroin where you can prescribe to reduce dependence.“With alcohol you can manage through community detox.“The only way to address Spice is through cognitive behavioural therapy.“We have to manage and handle the psychological effects.”As well as the council’s drug and alcohol service there are other groups working in Blackpool to help those in need of support.Workers from Fulfilling Lives are regularly out on the streets seeking out the resort’s most vulnerable.Nicky said: “They are working 365 days a year with the town’s most chaotic individuals, they are visible on the streets.”Help is available for those wanting to end their substance abuse. If need support or know somebody else who does contact the Blackpool Horizon team on (01253) 205156 or (01253) 340104.“There is no waiting time,” said Nicky. “If you call you can get the help and support straight away.”

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