legal high
In 2014, the substance claimed the lives of 112 people in Scotland - image for representation Getty

A family in Scotland has taken the initiative to spread awareness about the ill-effects of legal highs, after they lost two members of their family to it. Two brothers, William and Simon McGough, addicted to legal highs, lost their lives in the span of three years.

William was found drowned in a river in Wick in 2013 and his brother, Simon, was found dead next to a packet of psychoactive stuff on 6 May.

Their sister, Melanie Downie, 40, has written an emotional post on Facebook stating: "Yesterday I organised the funeral of my second brother in three years... the reason – legal highs.

"Simon and William were blighted with addiction; their drug of choice for the past four years was legal highs." In 2014 alone, the substance claimed the lives of 112 people in Scotland, according to BBC.

Although the drugs are promoted as cheap, safe, fun and completely legal, they are deadly, Downie has said.

"These manufacturers should be prosecuted. The websites hosting these pages should be held accountable," Downie is quoted as saying in the BBC report. "Kids and young people up and down the country are dying from drugs you can buy online. How many more families have to go through this?"

Both brothers had a "super upbringing" in a "great, loving home", but they fell into the wrong company of people in their teenage and became heroin users, she said.

Legal highs are psychoactive drugs, officially known as new psychoactive substances (NPS). They contain chemical ingredients, some of which are illegal and produce an effect like that of cocaine or cannabis.

While Simon died of addiction, he seemed to be trying hard to get over his habit, his sister said. He even wrote a post on his Facebook page some days before his death about the impending ban. "It was almost like he needed the ban so he couldn't get them so easily. He was a big advocate of getting rid of the drugs that he was addicted to," said Downie.