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New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) Resource pack for informal educators and practitioners

Children and young people growing up in the 21st Century are exposed to risk. Risk and risk-taking are a natural part of the transition into adulthood. But what do we mean by risk? In young people’s lives there are:
• risk factors: those circumstances whereby the best outcomes are compromised due to, among other things, poverty, deprivation, ill health and poor relationships.
• risk behaviours: potentially harmful behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and substance misuse and unsafe sex.
• young people at risk: this term is used to refer to those who are potentially vulnerable, such as subject to abuse or neglect or in care or custody.

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) or so called “legal highs” present a danger because:
• they are easily accessible.
• they are constantly being adapted to avoid legislative control.
• they may not necessarily hold the same perceived threat to health and well-being as illegal drugs.
• some young people are unaware that just because they are advertised as legal, doesn’t mean they are safe or legal - behaviours.

It is important therefore that we are clear about how we respond to risk and the part it plays in the lives of (vulnerable) young people. Equally important is that, where possible, interventions are made using evidence-based practice. Young people have told us, for example, that they welcome personal resist peer pressure without threatening friendships and meaningful relationships.