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Survey under way to find the truth about psychoactive substances

A root and branch survey is under way to find the truth about new psychoactive substance (NPS) misuse across the Western Bay region which includes Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot and Bridgend.

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The region's Substance Misuse Prevention group is asking all 11 - 25 year-olds about their experiences of, and attitudes towards, news psychoactive substances which were made illegal this year.

The ambitious survey which is believed to be the first of its kind in Wales will shape the early intervention and prevention strategy and ensure it responds well to the established needs of children and young people living and working across the region.

It was commissioned amid concerns about a 'mixed picture' of psychoactive substance use across the three local authority areas and because data that is available to inform service planning is deemed inadequate.

In 2015, the National Assembly for Wales Health and Social Care Committee's inquiry into psychoactive substances recommended that Welsh Government should work with UK Government to implement a ban on supply of NPS - this was achieved in May, 2016.

The 'Not so Legal, Not so High' survey will work towards another of the committee's recommendations, to look at ways of measuring NPS use so its prevalence is better understood and services can be planned.

The region's prevention group is includes the county councils, police and health service bodies.

Claire Fauvel, Public Health Practitioner, Western Bay APB, is co-ordinating the survey. She said: "There is a need to establish what impact the new legislation has had upon attitudes and behaviour.

"Since they were made illegal, attitudes towards such substances have hopefully changed. At the moment we do not know - what we do know is that drug intervention agencies have seen an increase in young people experiencing problems linked to psychoactive substances over the last few years.

"Developing an effective strategy to tackle the real and present threat that is psychoactive substances requires real meaningful insight. It isn't good enough to base important decisions on maybes. We do have some idea about where and how to channel our services, but without absolute confidence that we are making the right decisions, we cannot be certain that we are doing the best we can."

There are 120,000, 11-to-25 year-olds living across the Western Bay region.

To encourage the maximum number of responses to the online survey which can be completed using a mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer, Western Bay APB will call upon the help of hundreds of teachers, lecturers, youth, and third sector workers, who will encourage and facilitate the completion of the surveys by people in their care or under their supervision.

Steve Adie, from the Western Area Planning Board added: "This is a genuine opportunity for young people to inform, shape, and advise on information and treatment services for people who need them in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot, and Bridgend. I am encouraging everybody to get involved. Parents, teachers, youth workers, and young people themselves can help raise awareness about the survey and help maximise participation."

The survey was developed with the assistance of Neath and Port Talbot youth council members. 


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