A word from our friendly local addiction specialist dr

Hello there, a brief update from my world as an Addiction Psychiatrist.


There have been big changes to how NHS services are providing support to people with alcohol and drug problems in Bristol over the last year. We are now providing services as part of ROADS (Recovery Orientated Alcohol and Drugs Service). This is a partnership between organisations in Bristol and aims to provide a seamless service so that when a person contacts ROADS they should not notice that the element of support they need can be provided by one of 5 different organisations. The aim being that all providers focus on the care provided rather than being passed between different organisations.


One of the big aims for ROADS was to improving the numbers of people receiving treatment for alcohol problems. Alcohol is the substance that causes the most harm in the UK but it has not had equivalent resources as traditional services focused on illicit drug treatment. There is no distinction between alcohol and drug services now in terms of funding and where people are seen. This is particularly important for young people as many more young people die or come to harm as a result of alcohol problems than for all other substances put together. We have seen a massive increase in the numbers of people referred for alcohol problems, in fact this has been such a success we are struggling to meet the extra demand which has exceeded our expectations.


We are still closely monitoring changes in patterns of substance use locally and nationally. An important area is Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS), sometimes called ‘club drugs’ or ‘legal highs’. Although these substances are often less harmful than alcohol or other more traditional drugs, there are new substances emerging to exploit legal loop-holes which are often more harmful that substances that have just been made illegal. Also we are seeing problems as drugs are not being sold correctly. For example we have several people running into problems, and some deaths nationally, with substances sold as MDMA/ecstasy which in fact contain other more harmful substances such as PMA or PMMA. This is particularly a problem as people take a substance they think is MDMA but think it’s week so take more and then overdose on these more harmful substances.


Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, stay safe, and be respectful of any substances that you put into your body,


Dr Tim

Club Drugs; help is at hand!

My name is Dr Tim Williams and with my colleague Elaine Driver we run Bristol’s ‘Club Drug Clinic’. This is only the second such clinic nationally and is a response to changing trends of drug use in young people.

In the last 10 years there has been a steady reduction in young people using drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin. Increasingly young people are buying compounds directly from internet sites for delivery. More and more young people are now finding they have developed a problem with internet substances and need some help and support. Others are wanting accurate information to ensure they are not using toxic substances. Since the media storm around mephedrone there has been a diversification in the market and new compounds emerging, usually from labs inChina, in rapid succession. Some of these compounds have been harmless but others have been poorly researched and trialled, resulting in psychoactive chemicals which are highly potent and have a very narrow safety window. Consequently in Bristol we have had several young people die after taking white powders that the press erroneously labelled as MDMA or ecstasy. The Club Drug Clinic aims to provide up to date information and advice to people who are using well known compounds such as ketamine, methoxetamine, and methiopropamine or branded internet compounds such as BenzoFury or NRG.

I am part of Professor David Nutts’ Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD). The ISCD draws together experts in the field of drug science and allows us to have the most up-to-date information on what is out there. The forensic scientists on the committee have amazing knowledge and experience of analysing and characterising new compounds that come onto the market. Part of my role in the Club Drug Clinic is to get any information from users about compounds that have caused problems or side effects, so we are always interested in hearing about your experiences. Anyone can come in and talk to us anonymously for a chat and to share information.

If someone needed more help and treatment we would start seeing people regularly and could link into our extensive treatment services which includes detox if this was necessary.

 We are open for drop-in every Wednesday between 5-7pm at Colston Fort, Montague Place, Kinsdown, BS6 5UB. Its just off St Michaels Hill, just ring the buzzer and we would love to meet you.