Spice addict Serena Christie warns of legal high dangers

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Media captionSerena Christie said she 'lost a part' of herself and regularly experienced hallucinations

A woman who became addicted to legal highs and developed psychosis has spoken about her experience in the hope it will deter others.

Serena Christie, 23, from Kent, became addicted to Spice - a synthetic cannabis - when she went to university.

But it caused hallucinations and made her so paranoid she thought the police and her housemates were spying on her.

She said the thought legal highs would be safer than illegal drugs, but she said they turned out to be stronger.

"Every morning when I woke up, assuming I even went to bed, I would roll a joint and I would smoke one after the other, one after the other, and I didn't feel like I could stop."

She said she thought the cannabis substitute would be a step down from the illegal drugs she had experimented with.

But she said: "I thought I'll get off the illegal drugs by taking legal highs, and it had the opposite effect."

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Image caption Spice is more potent than cannabis and more addictive, a charity has said

A new law that will make Spice illegal has been delayed, but Ms Christie, from Tunbridge Wells, said education was more important than reclassification.

She said: "It's difficult to talk about. But I think that if people stand up and they raise awareness of these issues, then you can make a change. You can make people think twice."

Jeremy Sare, from drug awareness charity Angelus, said Spice was "massively more potent" than cannabis and "hugely more addictive".

He said: "It's very easy to take far too much and we've seen many cases of young people who are very often 15 or 16, who may know a little bit about cannabis, and obviously they don't know about the powerful effects of Spice."

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Image caption A new law on legal highs is due to be implemented this spring

Legal highs legislation

The Psychoactive Substances Act was due to be implemented on 6 April and is now expected to come into force this spring.

The government will have to give 21 days' notice to the UK parliament before the legislation can be enforced.

It will make it an offence to supply any psychoactive substance - except nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and medical products.

The maximum sentence will be seven years in prison

Some charities have warned legal highs are being stockpiled before the new law prohibits their sale.

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