TWENTY people have been left recovering in hospital after taking a new “legal high” – which claims to be “the strongest party powder there is”.
Named Ivory Wave, the white powder is sold as bath salts and has left users suffering severe nausea, vomiting, anxiety and hallucinations.
NHS Lothian has since launched a special appeal to convince young people to avoid experimenting with similar drugs.
The news follows a crackdown by the UK government on “legal highs”, after the so-called “plant-food” mephedrone was linked to the deaths of a number of British party-goers.
Dr James Dear, a consultant clinical pharmacologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, said: “These are sold as certain things, like bath salts, but bought purely as drugs.
“One producer’s Ivory Wave could be completely different to another’s because various things are added.
“This is why we don’t always know what is in them and what effect they could have – as a result we have to appeal to people not to take it.
“When mephedrone was made illegal by the government all these new legal highs came in to take its place, and the concern is the people who make these will always come up with new legal alternatives.”
The health board for NHS Lothian also warned that any of the new substances available could also cause kidney failure, seizures, muscle damage and loss of bowel control.
Ivory Wave is readily available to buy in Scottish “Head Shops”, and also through a number of unregulated online outlets.
One – a European website – boasted that the drug would “blow your mind” despite warning that “it is strong for sure”.
Jim Sherval, a specialist in public health for NHS Lothian warned that people could “never be certain” what was contained in these “legal highs”.
He said: “The chemicals used in legal highs change all the time so people can never be certain what they are actually taking and what the effects might be.
“In most cases, the products have not been tested, so little is known about how toxic they are.
“It is important that people understand that just because a substance is legal or claimed to be legal does not mean that it is safe.
“We need to get across the message that these legal highs pose a real danger.”
Lesley Hinds, health spokeswoman for the Labour group at City of Edinburgh Council, added: “This is very worrying.
“We need to be careful not to glamorise these names, but it is important that people are aware of the dangers because at this stage we don’t know what long-term impacts it could have.”