Student: ‘Legal high addiction gave me terrifying psychosis’

A student whose life was turned upside down by legal high addiction is sharing her story to discourage others from using the drugs.

Serena Christie became addicted to legal highs while working in a shop that sold them.

Her use of the substances quickly spiraled out of control and she dropped out of university, with over £3,000 of debt.


The student, now 23, first tried the drugs when she started work in a shop to support her studies.

She told the Daily Mail: “Naively I assumed that because they were legal, they were safe.”

However, she soon found herself heavily addicted as the drugs became the ‘first thing she took in the morning and the last thing she took before going to bed’.


When she was unable to take the drugs, Serena developed severe withdrawal symptoms, “the shakes, the sweats”, which she described as “horrible”.

But as time went on the side effects became even worse, as she experienced hallucinations and paranoia.

Naively I assumed that because they were legal, they were safe.

Serena Christie

She said: “I was convinced the police were following me, that my housemates were spies and that they were using their mobile phones to read my mind.

“Later, I thought I was infested with fleas and I’d scratch my body all over to try and get rid of them.”


After dropping out of university with more than £3,000 of debt, Serena eventually visited hospital where doctors diagnosed her with psychosis and referred her for treatment.

Over time, her psychosis subsided and she began to recover from the addiction.

The Government’s Psychoactive Substances Act, due to come into force this year, will outlaw the sale of legal highs.

The law

Under the Act, “any substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person who consumes it”, will become illegal, with the exception of things like alcohol and caffeine.

Until now legal highs have been banned on a case-by-case basis. However, manufacturers are often able to get around the law by tweaking the chemical composition of the drugs.

The Home Office has said: “The landmark psychoactive substances act will fundamentally change the way we tackle these drugs and put an end to unscrupulous suppliers profiting from their trade. Our message is clear: offenders will face up to seven years in prison.”

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