Treatment for ‘club drugs’ rising

6 January 2014

The National Treatment Agency have issued a report indicating that the number of individuals who sought help for the effects of taking what are commonly known as 'club drugs' has risen over the last 6 years. 

The sort of drugs that come into this category are ecstasy (still the most popular) and other drugs such as ketamine and mephedrone which are thought to be increasingly popular.

In 2011, 6,486 people were treated in one way or another for the effects of taking drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine, which was a rise of 4,656 over the figures from 2005/06.  The report refers to those who sought help in a variety of ways such as counselling and detoxification.

The NTA believes that approximately 1 million people used 'club drugs' last year, although overall drug use in general has in fact declined in England over the past 6 years. 

Some of the side effects of using such drugs can be serious physical and mental health problems such as bladder damage and psychosis. 

The NTA report 'Drugs: Emerging trends and risks' said that 61% of people aged over 18 and 74% of under 18s who had used the substances, left treatment successfully in 2011.  900 adults started treatment for mephedrone in the last year surveyed which is a slight rise on the previous year, however the number of new adults entering treatment halved from around 2000 in 2005/06 to just over 1000 last year.

Paul Hayes the NTA Chief Executive said "it is clear that some club drug users are developing serious health problems and even dependency.  While drug use overall is falling, there is an increase in the number of people turning to treatment for club drugs.  The number remains small compared to heroin and crack addiction, but services need to be geared up to meet these emerging needs".

On a positive note, Mr Hayes added that those who do seek treatment "stand a very good chance of overcoming their problems.  Many have personal support and resources that put them in a good position to recover".

Any drug which is classified as a controlled drug is illegal to possess.  There has been some confusion in the past about drugs which are colloquially referred to as 'legal highs' which may until recently have not been controlled, but which now appear on the controlled list.  Whether such drugs are referred to as 'legal highs' or 'club drugs' they are still a controlled drug for which a person can be arrested if found in possession and depending on the classification of the drug, the sentences on occasion lead to sentences of imprisonment being imposed for mere possession.  Possession with intent to supply or supplying any controlled drug will almost inevitably lead to a sentence of imprisonment, whatever the classification of the drug involved. 

The above is not legal advice, it is intended to provide information of general interest in current legal issues.