London Launches First "Club Drug" Clinic
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A small but important treatment center called the Club Drug Clinic—the first in the UK specifically for people who have problems with substances such as mephedrone, ecstasy and ketamine—launched yesterday in west London. Funded by Britain's National Health Service for an initial two years, the clinic is based at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and staffed by doctors, nurses, psychologists and drug and HIV workers. It's thought that traditional treatment centers' focus on crack, heroin or alcohol may deter users of club drugs from seeking help, and a five-month pilot scheme received over 70 referrals. The news comes as club drug use among young Brits soars—last year an estimated 300,000 aged 16-24 took the stimulant mephedrone, known in the UK as "meow-meow." This trend mirrors a worldwide rise in use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) that was recently reported by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Authorities around the world struggle to keep pace with the rapid development of synthetic ATS drugs—the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction recorded 20 new compounds in the first four months of this year. The founder of the Club Drug Clinic, Dr. Owen Bowden-Jones, told the BBC, "The health risks associated with excessive use of club drugs are underestimated by many people. Little is known about the potential problems of the newer drugs."