User Voice volunteer helps CRC understand Monkey Dust problems

Community Council volunteer inspired to help by seeing effects of NPS on people in the West Midlands

Mark Cohen, a User Voice volunteer in the Midlands, was recently invited to present to local probation services on the subject of a new strain of NPS, Monkey Dust.

Monkey Dust is is rapidly becoming more widely used, particularly in the Midlands, but is also known elsewhere as Zombie Dust.

Mark had become concerned by the widespread use and horrific effects in the community in Stoke-On-Trent and took the opportunity at a Community Council meeting in Birmingham to give a 15-minute presentation to the SPOC there as well as drugs services about what he has seen and what he knows.

“I had been doing my own work on it and a few stories started appearing on Sky and the BBC, which helped my case,” says Mark. He told them how the drug has become widely used and was having an insidious effect on users. “It is replacing heroin but it is only £2. People only have to beg for it and it’s a deadly problem, people are dying.”

Mark told Staffordshire and West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company how it can induce paranoia, psychosis and hallucinations, and because of its cheapness and availability represents a worrying new trend.  “People are falling through the cracks because they are paranoid, and they won’t ask for help. And the problem is spreading. Whether you call it Monkey Dust or not, it is a growing problem. It’s not just a Stoke-on-Trent problem.”

Mark works with the Engagement Team across Stoke, Solihull, Tamworth and Coventry, so is in a good position to see how the use of Monkey Dust is developing. He later received an invitation to take part in a multi-disciplinary meeting in Stoke convened by drugs services there with representatives from 17 other services, including the police.

Some present were concerned about the vulnerability of their workers when dealing with users of Monkey Dust but Mark felt prompted to intervene: “I told them the most vulnerable people were the drug takers.”

“And what’s worrying is when I was in detox the age group was the 30s and 40s but this is definitely more like an 18-24 age group,” he added.

More people are taking the drug because, as with a lot of NPS, it is not detectable by mandatory drug tests. Certainly the problem of Spice, NPS and Monkey Dust is a growing one, whether among the young, in prisons or on the streets, and Mark is using his experience to educate others: “I’ve come out of this lifestyle, I was grateful to be at the meeting.”

If you have any views or observations on the use of Monkey Dust or other NPS please let the Communications Manager know on communications@uservoice.org

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