Home Office Minister visits west London clinic to find out more about ‘legal highs’

Gary Hart January 28, 2016

Home Office minister Karen Bradley paid a visit to the Earls Court based Club Drug Clinic on Tuesday, January 26 ahead of today’s Psychoactive Substances Bill gaining Royal Assent and becoming law.

Pictured (left to right): Dr Dima Abdulrahim, Karen Bradley MP, Dr Owen Bowden-Jones

Under the new legislation, the production, distribution, sale and supply of novel psychoactive substances (NPS) will be banned from April 1.

The Club Drug Clinic, run by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) offers support and advice to people who’ve developed problems with recreational drugs such as ecstasy, methamphetamine and GHB/GBL known as ‘club drugs’. The team includes specialist addiction doctors, psychologists, nurses, counsellors and peer mentors with ‘lived experience’ of these club drugs.

The minister listened to a presentation by Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, and Researcher Dr Dima Abdulrahim on novel psychoactive substances – also known as ‘legal highs’.

Substances include GHB/GBL, methamphetamine, ketamine, mephedrone, MDMA and a host of other research chemicals. Dr Bowden-Jones outlined how two new NPS drugs were emerging every week across Europe with these substances easily available over the internet.

The profile of those using the drugs had also changed with young professionals and prisoners amongst them. Dr Bowden-Jones also noted that the use of these drugs was leading to a host of new health problems from bladder problems to psychosis. He explained to the minister how the drugs were being used in a sexual context, known as ‘chemsex’.

Dr Dima Abdulrahim’s presentation featured on Neptune; a project which looks at ways to improve clinical practice in the management of the harms caused by novel psychoactive substances. The team also outlined the services available at the clinic to treat people with club drug problems.

Karen Bradley MP
Karen Bradley MP

Speaking after the presentation, the minister for modern slavery and organised crime, said: “Dr Owen Bowden-Jones and Researcher Dr Dima Abdulrahim gave a really interesting presentation and I’ve gained more knowledge about this issue.”

Commenting on the Minister’s visit, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, said: “Novel psychoactive substances present a challenge for health services and policymakers. There’s limited knowledge of the harm these drugs can do. The CNWL Club Drug Clinic continues to be at the forefront of developing clinical responses and will continue to develop and share that knowledge.”