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Abuse of legal highs in jails results in calls for ambulance every 42 minutes in UK

A new perturbing trend noticed in the prisons in the United Kingdom is of calling ambulances every 42 minutes due to emergencies arising out of the abuse of psychotic drugs like the “zombie” drug Spice. An increasing number of prisoners now need emergency medical help because of drug overdoses.

The situation has turned worse as legal highs have started finding inroads into the prisons, resulting in inmates regularly overdosing or indulging in violence. Calling an ambulance to recuse overdosed prisoners weighs heavy on the state exchequer. Each time an ambulance is called, it costs £300, and in 2015-16, the total cost for all such incidents went up to £3.7 million, which is before the cost of hospitalization.

According to figures collated from 10 ambulance services in England, prisons summoned them on 12,576 occasions in 2015-16, which jumped drastically from 6,677 incidences in 2013-14, an 88 percent jump from the previous year.

To handle the situation, on several occasions, jail authorities had to call in paramedics to attend prisoners having fits, seizures, blackouts and even heart attacks inside jail premises. It drew the ire of the ministers who have come together and pledged to tackle the problem. Eating into the taxpayers’ money is sheer disgrace, they said. Plans are on to control such easy accessibility of legal highs in prisons.

Even the Prison and Courts Bill, which was dropped just before the general elections, called for regular tests of inmates for legal highs. In a bid to deter the act of sneaking them into prisons, it sought severe punishments with a maximum of a 10-year sentence. The authorities have done their bit to address this issue. The staff is well trained to respond to an emergency in a timely and appropriate manner.

Drug overdoses quotidian in the US

As far as drug overdoses are concerned, the United States is at the vortex of this entire conundrum. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 47,000 people perished due to a drug overdose in 2014, mostly by consuming opioids like heroin, OxyContin, hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl.

Use of illicit drugs and prescription opioids is common in the U.S. prisons, where inmates are involved in injecting drugs and other harmful substances. Many inmates have a history of heroin addiction, and it is likely to continue even inside the jail.

Authorities need to address such problems to prevent any mishaps. More than 65 percent of the 2.3 million people locked in prisons meet the criteria for substance abuse addiction. So it is about time that federal authorities crack the whip and control the situation, saving lives of the incarcerated.

Inmates need help for kicking the habit

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at the Columbia University, among inmates with substance use disorders lodged at federal and state prisons or local jails, only 11 percent receive treatment and adequate care. Not providing help to those who really want to kick the habit can be disheartening. Experts say that treatment and not incarceration will help change the situation.

Any substance misuse can go woefully wrong in the absence of timely treatment. Chronic and severe addiction is always fatal. So if you have a loved one abusing any substance, and are looking for drug rehab treatment centers, call our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for a quick resolution. One must not shy away from treatment due to stigma because a delay in treatment can spiral things out of hand.

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