Belfast City Hospital is dealing with a “worrying” increase in |the number of people taking the recently banned drug NRG-1.
The party drug — dubbed the ‘Devil’s powder’ and said to be 13 times stronger than cocaine and more addictive than heroin — was made illegal only last month but the hospital say the number of admissions as a direct result of the drug has gone up.
A Belfast drugs group said it is the “main problem drug” at present.
NRG-1 surfaced on the local market following the banning of mephedrone back in April.
Alex Bunting, team leader at drugs group FASA, said they had been forced to take people to hospital suffering from drug-induced psychosis after taking NRG-1.
Explaining the dangers of the drug, he said: “The problem is people taking NRG-1 don’t get the same initial high as they would from mephedrone.
“It takes longer to take effect so people end up taking more of it. We have had to take clients to hospital on a Monday morning, after they had been using it at the weekend.
“They have been suffering from drug-induced psychosis; hearing voices, paranoia, and feeling anxious.
“Different people will have different reactions. It could be their first time on it or they could be a heavy user.
“Either way, what we have seen is more people coming through our doors having taken this drug. It is the main problem drug at present.”
Users are inhaling NRG-1 through their nose in a similar way to cocaine.
They are also understood to be taking ‘hot shots’, which is when the drug is dropped in hot water and drank as a shot.
The Mater Hospital in north Belfast has also reported an increase in patients presenting themselves at A&E departments having taken the |drug recently.
One patient currently being treated at the Ulster Hospital is “being monitored for the effects of the |drug” and is being “kept under observation”.
A spokesperson for the Belfast Health And Social Care Trust said: “The A&E units in the Belfast Trust can confirm an increase in recent weeks in the number of people attending hospital having taken NRG-1, and the psychological side effects of this drug are particularly |worrying.”
This comes as the outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians sparked controversy when he claimed that decriminalising drug use could drastically reduce crime and improve health.
Sir Ian Gilmore said the laws on |the misuse of drugs should be |reviewed and that their supply be regulated.