London: LGBT club drug clinic gets new contract

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A London drug clinic, which runs an LGBT support service, has been awarded a new funding contract.

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) has been funded to run the Club Drug Clinic specifically for the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.

In partnership with the Antidote/London Friend service, the CNWL Club Drug Clinic also provides a specialist service for LGBT people.

Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, who established the clinic in 2010, said: “UK drug services have traditionally focused on heroin and crack cocaine addiction.

“Club drugs, such as Ketamine, Mephedrone, GBL and so called legal highs, present new challenges. These drugs are often used by people who don’t fit the traditional stereotype of a drug user.

“Instead, our clients tend to be working professionals in their 20s and 30s who started taking drugs socially in clubs or at university.”

He added: “Despite the common reputation of club drugs as relatively harmless and recreational, the clinic has seen club drug use escalate and cause psychological, physical and social problems such as psychosis, dependence and relationship breakdown. These issues are similar to the problems we see with more traditional drugs.”

In July, the Home Office released the latest official figures on drug use in England & Wales.

It showed that drug use in the past year amongst gay and bisexual men was three times higher (33%) than use amongst heterosexual men (11.1%). For lesbian and bisexual women use was more than four times as high (22.9%) than for heterosexual women (5.1%).

‘Chemsex’, the use of drugs such as crystal meth, GHB/GBL and mephedrone for sexual activity, has increased among a proportion of gay and bisexual men in recent years.

Whilst it remains a minority activity within the LGBT community, Public Health Wales suggested in October that Chemsex could be linked to rising levels of HIV in gay and bisexual men in Wales.