Britons having problems linked to the use of new psychoactive substances now have a specialised clinic they can turn to. The Club Drug Clinic, which opened its doors in September last year, is the first funded team to specialise in helping people with problems associated with club drugs, including Ketamine, Mephedrone, GHB/GBL, Crystal Methampetamine, Ecstasy and legal highs.
The clinic is based at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and aims to become a leading centre for research on emerging drugs and the problems associated with excessive use. The team provides information and advice, assessment of problems, medically-assisted withdrawal from substances (detox), counselling and sexual health screening.
‘We proudly work with people from all backgrounds and sexualities and can help with the psychological, sexual, physical, relationship, housing and work problems related to club drug use,’ says the clinic on its website.
The creation of the specialised clinic was in response to concerns being voiced by medical experts. The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust says leading drug treatment experts in London were seeing a higher demand from club drug users, especially young people and gay men, than ever before.
A specialist clinical nurse carrying out an assessment at the Club Drug Clinic
The clinic accepts referrals nationally, through GPs, other professional health services or self referrals. It is described as having a ‘multidisciplinary approach’ to help treat problematic club drug use.
Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, a consultant psychiatrist and founder of the clinic, said: ‘Patterns of drug use in the UK are changing and over the last two or three years we have continued to see an increase in the use of ‘club drugs’. There are new drugs emerging all the time, particularly a group of substances known as ‘legal highs’. The health risks associated with excessive use of club drugs are underestimated by many people and little is known about the potential problems of the newer drugs.’
He added: ‘Existing drug services in the UK primarily focus on problematic alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine use. Many people experiencing club drug problems do not see current treatment services as well equipped to help them. As a result they do not seek treatment.’
The clinic says it benefits from close links with other services, including voluntary sector partners and specialists in debt advice, family therapy, sexual health and employment advice. The team is made up of doctors, nurses, psychologists and drug workers.