Forward Leeds develops new treatment path for synthetic cannabinoids

Forward Leeds, the city’s alcohol and drug service, are offering a ground breaking approach to the growing national problem of Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists, known on the UK streets as ‘Spice’.

Forward Leeds workers and those accessing their services raised the need for new ways of helping those using the drug that address the service users’ complex needs, especially of those rough sleeping.

The group evolved a flexible and rapid response treatment pathway, using available service resources and psycho-social treatment interventions, to offer a reduction and detoxification programme. This new treatment can avoid the need for admission to inpatient beds or a residential detox.

Dr Hallam (pictured above) the Clinical Director of Forward Leeds said: “We have listened to those who use our services and those who work most closely with them in the community. They want effective help and we have developed this new way to support their needs.

“The innovative approach we are taking is already supporting those wishing to stop their ‘Spice’ use. There is growing evidence to suggest we are having a positive effect.”

Operations Director Lee Wilson said: “The support of Leeds City Council, the Street Outreach Service and the new Safer Leeds Street Support team has been important. Their understanding of this population has vital in the work undertaken and developed.

Lee continued said: “Already a number of individuals have successfully gone through the new reduction and detoxification path. This should lessen the impact of drug related harms and lighten the load on local and NHS resources.”

Lee Wilson

Lee Wilson of Forward Leeds

Forward Leeds along with colleagues from their lead partner organisation Humankind have been invited to present this work at the Sixth International Conference on Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) which will be held on the 8th and 9th April 2019 at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.

The conference, which has delegates from all over the world, aims to share knowledge and strengthen collaboration on NPS among multi-disciplinary professionals.

Those attending the conference to present their work are from Forward Leeds Service Clinical Director Dr Mark Hallam and Operations Director for Leeds, Lee Wilson with Humankind Medical Director Dr. Roya Vaziri.

Dr Hallam added: “We will be able to discuss our new model with peers and colleagues at the conference, and hopefully gain further insights from other professionals working in this field around the globe.”

The conference is jointly organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), University of Hertfordshire, University of Maastricht.