HSE statement on new head shop drug “WHACK”

Over the past ten days, 40 reports were received by the National Poisons Information Centre regarding persons suffering severe adverse reactions attributed to using a new head shop substance “WHACK”.
The majority of these individuals are young males in their twenties. They live in different parts of Ireland with 20 presenting in the mid-Western region. They have suffered a range of symptoms including increased heart and breathing rates and raised blood pressure. Emergency Physicians and GPs have described that the majority suffered from differing levels of anxiety with at least 7 cases experiencing psychotic episodes. This psychosis is severe and is proving difficult to treat.

The National Poisons Information Centre, the Forensic Science Laboratory, the Irish Medicines Board and others are monitoring closely the emergence of any new psychoactive substances.

On the 11th May 2010, the Government brought in new legislation. This legislation has brought under control approximately 200 individual substances and covers the vast majority of products of public health concern, which were on sale in head shops.

In addition to the recent controls on legal highs introduced by the Minister for Health and Children, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform is bringing forward the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010 which aims to ensure that the sale or supply of substances which may not be specifically proscribed under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but which have psychoactive effects, will be a criminal offence.

The advice from the HSE is not to try this dangerous drug or other similar substances as the effect on an individual can impact significantly on one’s health.

Source: HSE Press & Media, Dr Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin 8, 09/06/2010

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