A gloomy photo showing three men slumped over in the street while apparently high on spice is a stark reminder that the UK is in the middle of an epidemic.
The picture, which was taken in Bridgend town centre, Wales, shows three debilitated men hunched over on a high street close to where a child is playing.
Since coming onto the scene in 2013, the zombie drug has spread through the country and is now creeping into prisons and schools.
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Three men in Bridgend town centre were pictured slumped over on the high street while high on spice
The picture in Bridgend shows one user hanging off of a bench with his shirt off while two other men are seen in crumpled heaps on the ground.
The photo was taken in the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday.
A second image also taken in the town centre shows a lifeless man collapsed on a bench clutching his rolling tobacco.
A second image showing a man slumped on a bench clutching his rolling tobacco has also emerged
For £15 users can buy a ‘ball’ of spice (left) that can last more than a week. The effects of Spice are different and wildly unpredictable
Experts say the spice epidemic spread from the North West. Photos from Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool showed spaced-out users laying lifeless in the middle of streets with vomit all over their clothes.
But the drug has now made its way through central England and into Wales.
Sad images have emerged from Cambridge, Wolverhampton and Lincoln showing debilitated users hunched over benches and lying stiff on busy high streets.
Reports of increased usage in Wrexham and Cardiff show that the drug is making its way through the whole of the UK.
South Wales Police said it was aware of the photos and claimed they served as a reminder of the misery drugs bring to communities.
Det Insp Dean Taylor told the BBC: ‘I would ask that the community continue to work with us and make a stand against the drug dealers who impose this misery upon others.’
Experts say the epidemic is spreading from the North West in cities like Manchester (pictured). Pictures have emerged of people lying in the city centre in the middle of the day ‘turning blue’ (right) while others have been seen vomiting on themselves (left) outside shops
Spice on the rise in Wales, with Public Health Wales revealing the synthetic drug has led to more hospital admissions and more deaths.
The most recent figures showed that 123 people died in Wales and England in 2016 using the drug.
Last month six pupils at a Cambridgeshire secondary school were hospitalised after vomiting and fainting while high on spice.
The children at Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech used the powerful synthetic marijuana substitute – which was so strong it reportedly left one of them having a seizure – while on school grounds.
Creeping into schools: Last month children at Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech (pictured) were hospitalised after using spice on school grounds
A woman lies slumped in front of a shop in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre
Business owners in Lincoln claim dozens of people can be seen lying prone across the city. Pictured: A user dangles off a park bench while high on spice last year
For just £5, users can buy a small bag of Spice. For £10 more, they can buy a ‘ball’ as large as an orange that can last more than a week.
Despite originally being peddled as an alternative to cannabis, the effects of Spice are different and wildly unpredictable.
Users hallucinate, sweat profusely and their limbs refuse to move as they overheat. It can cause liver failure, kidney failure and death.
The zombie-like effects are believed to last for ten to 30 minutes before users regain lucidity.
A man appears disorientated and is incoherent as he sits forward on the pavement in Manchester
A lifeless man lies flat out on the pavement in Piccadilly Gardens in the middle of the afternoon
They can then fall back into a stupor within minutes. Other side-effects such as paranoia and dizziness can last for up to eight hours.
Experts claim Spice is sold to the homeless, addicts and those with mental health issues because they are less likely to be scared of the dangerous side-effects. It comes in up to 100 chemical variations, making the effects of each batch completely unpredictable.
Dr Janos Baombe, 41, a consultant in emergency medicine at Manchester Royal Infirmary, treats up to five people a week who become seriously ill after using the drug. But he sees many more incapacitated around the city centre. He said: ‘I have never seen drugs this dangerous or this powerful.
‘Within days you can become tolerant and need to take more.
‘The withdrawal symptoms are similar to somebody coming off heroin, but Spice users become hooked much more quickly.’
How smoking a spice joint is akin to smoking up to 100 with cannabis
As addictive as heroin and crack, the drug costs just £5 per bag.
Smoking a single spice joint is akin to smoking up to 100 containing normal cannabis – and addiction can take hold in just three days.
It has left addicts suffering severe psychotic episodes, hallucinations, vomiting and even seizures.
Ministers outlawed possession of the Class B drug, but there is confusion amongst police over whether those caught with it can be arrested.
Officers also say the drug has become more potent since supply shifted from shops to streets.
A global drugs survey found that hospital admissions as a result of taking the herbal substance Spice have increased by over one-third since 2014.
The drug’s relative cheapness has also made spice popular among the homeless and in prisons.
In Manchester, police and ambulance chiefs admitted they were struggling to cope with the number of call outs to spice users who were collapsing in the city centre daily. It is estimated that 96 per cent of the city’s young homeless are hooked on the drug.
It is also estimated that an ambulance is called to British jails every 42 minutes as a consequence of a spice epidemic in prisons.
Last year, ambulances were called 12,576 times, an increase from 6,677 in 2014, figures from England’s ten ambulance services revealed.
Such psychoactive substances have also been linked to a rise in violence against staff and inmates, prisoner blackouts, seizures and heart attacks.
Each call-out costs about £300 so the bill for all incidents per year is over £4million.
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