Health workers who originally supported NHS reforms did not realise their full implications, GP claims
Health workers who originally supported NHS reforms did not realise their full implications, GP claims Reuters

The first ever NHS clinic targeted to helping so-called 'club-drug' has been opened in London.

Doctors say there has been a rise in the number of people who are using drugs such as ketamine, ecstasy, mephedrone and other "legal highs".

Existing addiction clinics tend to cater for people who are addicted to alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine, so people who use 'club-drugs' do not go to these centres to seek help.

This new clinic will have specialist treatments conducted by doctors, nurses, physiologists and drug workers, as many current GPs and doctors are not well versed in the risk and dangers of these new drugs.

Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, 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.

"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 treatment centre has been running a pilot scheme for the past five months and has already received more than 70 referrals.

Set up by funding from Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, it will also become a research centre on new drugs and the problems associated with excessive use.

Last year, 41 new substances were produced with a further 20 appearing in the first four months of this year. A public outcry against the "legal high" mephedrone, which was sold as plant food, eventual led to it being banned last year. However, the British Crime Survey showed the move made little difference to the drug's popularity.