We can now reveal the full 15-page investigation which has highlighted a surge in use of legal highs in Harrogate in recent months.
The three-week awareness campaign, which has received backing from the Home Office, revealed that children as young as 12 have been targeted for these deadly drugs.
Homeless groups in the district say their use is “spreading like wildfire”, while charities say their rise to prominence shows a worrying trend.
The three-week investigation, putting a spotlight on legal highs, has examined the issue from every angle.
We’ve spoken to recovering addicts and those whose lives have been utterly destroyed by taking these substances, and met with groups across the district who are dealing with the fallout.
The Harrogate Advertiser series has spoken to police, bars, North Yorkshire County Council, safer communities teams and schools to find out what is being done to tackle the issue.
We’ve met with doctors, scientists, youth workers, and a grieving mother who lost her son.
“The words ‘legal high’ are a way of making a potentially dangerous narcotic somehow seem acceptable in the eyes of the law,” said Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.
“As the Harrogate Advertiser has demonstrated though, these drugs are dangerous and often derivatives of illegal and highly-addictive drugs.
“In many instances, so-called legal highs are on the journey to becoming illegal because the dangers associated with them have become known to the Government’s drugs advisors.
“They are only legal now because the law is playing catch up with new substances constantly being manufactured.
“The truth is that taking these drugs is akin to a gamble where the forfeit is your mental and physical health – sometimes your life.
“People in possession of the full facts about these drugs are less likely to take that gamble. That is why campaigns such as this one are important.”