Drug addicts are injecting a dangerous new legal high dubbed ‘bath salts’ as an alternative to heroin, it emerged yesterday.
Users can legally buy the powder and then inject it at seedy ‘poke parties’.
One homeless man said they are a regular event at his hostel in Brighton, East Sussex – but the authorities are powerless to stop them.
He said: “People don’t really do heroin in here anymore. They all just sit around together in the bedrooms jacking up with poke.
“The managers have tried to stop us but poke’s legal, so we just ignore them.”
Poke is part of a group of synthetic drugs known as ‘bath salts’ and can be freely bought in so-called ‘head shops’ for around £15 per half gram.
The packets warn ‘Not For Human Consumption’ and a message reads: “Toxic symptoms may include panic, convulsions or any manifestation of acute psychosis.”
Bosses at the council-run West Pier Project in Regency Square, Brighton, have pleaded with local shops to stop selling the salts but with limited success.
Managers at the hostel have also banned residents from inviting guests into their rooms in a bid to stop the parties.
Bec Davison, deputy director of the Brighton-based drug charity CRI, said poke had been steadily on the rise in the city for about 18 months.
She said: “The drugs market has changed a lot in the last couple of years. People often don’t know what they’re taking anymore which is incredibly risky.
“Injecting poke is dangerous because the mental health effects are much worse and the withdrawal can take up to three days.
“The challenge for us is the availability of this drug – it’s cheap and it’s on sale everywhere.”
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “The project does not allow these parties.
“It has acted to stop them happening by preventing residents having more than one guest in their rooms at a time.
“The drug is legal and on sale locally. We have approached retailers asking them to stop selling to West Pier Project clients, but with mixed results.”