Video: Footage sent to Notts TV by a member of the public shows three people found in Peel Street on Wednesday morning with the symptoms of spice usage.
At least 32 people have now needed medical treatment after collapsing in Nottingham city centre during a spike in usage of the synthetic high drug spice.
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) said “call after call” had come in over the weekend during a surge in people taking the illegal high.
Reports continued on Monday and Tuesday, with several people telling Notts TV they had seen other people with the “zombie-like” symptoms caused by the substance across the city centre.
One man had to be helped by police and paramedics after being found lying on his back in Trinity Square on Tuesday afternoon, and on Wednesday morning three more people were found slumped together in a doorway off Peel Street with similar symptoms.
The incidents took the total number of Nottingham patients to 32 since Saturday morning.
A leading city addiction support worker said many of the people affected are street homeless and already dealing with addiction, adding a combination of the “dirt cheap” cheap cost of the drug and greater public awareness could be behind the increase.
One person who saw the man lying in Trinity Square, who would only be named as Amy, said: “The sad thing is when the paramedics turned up they knew his name and said it’s not the first time.
“When the paramedics picked him up he just looked completely out of it – exactly what others have looked like on spice or mamba.
“It’s becoming more common and it’s killing people out there. These people need help not to be pushed to one side and the scumbags selling this stuff need locking up.”
East Midlands Ambulance Service said the unconscious patient was taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre for further treatment after a call at around 3.30pm. A spokesman said they were not aware of any deaths during the surge, but a number of people have needed urgent hospital treatment.
Synthetic cannabinoids – what are the risks?
The risks of synthetic cannabinoids are similar to natural cannabis, but because synthetic cannabinoids are more potent, it is easy to use too much and experience the unpleasant and harmful effects. This higher potency also means that the effects may last for longer.
Because many synthetic cannabinoids are new, they may have unknown effects too. There have been a number of deaths that have been associated with the use of synthetic cannabinoids, either on their own or with other substances. There may also be risks from smoking the plant material.
Apollos Clifton-Brown, operations manager for Nottingham Recovery Network, said: “I think people are becoming more aware of what they are seeing but there may not actually be an increase in usage – I think it’s just become a more public problem, although that doesn’t mean it’s less dangerous.
“A lot of the people [who are collapsing] we know already and they have very complex problems including multiple drug use.
“Mamba or spice is dirt cheap – you can get a gram for a tenner and you can need something like the size of a matchstick head for it to work although people are building a tolerance to it.
“What we are seeing is vulnerable individuals. A lot of them are street homeless – what’s worrying is they are putting themselves in a very vulnerable position. They are people who we know well and that in itself is quite uncomfortable.
“We know people are experiencing really strong hallucinations and really high anxiety. If someone is unconscious people should definitely be calling an ambulance. Some people have seizures or fits or appear to become very hot – you should also definitely be calling an ambulance if you see this.”
Spice or mamba were formerly known as ‘legal highs’ but were made illegal a year ago.
They are forms of synthetic cannabinoids which are a class of chemicals sprayed on to plants or other base substances. Although originally designed to mimic the effects of cannabis, the effects of spice are often far more potent, causing unconsciousness and in some cases breathing difficulties.
More information and help and support with drug addiction is available from Nottingham Recovery Network.