Increasing numbers of young people in Leeds are being diagnosed with bladder disorders after using party drugs such as ketamine and methadone.
Health workers in Leeds have revealed that new cases of ‘ketamine bladder syndrome’ have left users in pain and having to go to the toilet hundreds of times a day.
Dr John Roche from Leeds Club Drug Clinic (LCDC) expressed his concern for the health of Leeds students in light of the recent statistics. He told this paper: “A lot of students do take ketamine and they need to be aware of the risks…about three to four of the people who use ketamine attending our clinic have bladder problems, and the damage can be permanent.”
The syndrome has even led to some people having to have their organs removed. Ketamine and methadone were legal highs but are now classified as a Class B drugs. According to the LCDC, Yorkshire and Humber take more ketamine that the rest of the country. 1.2 per cent of 16-59 year olds have taken ketamine, compared to an average of 0.6% nationally.
The LCDC was set up in 2011 due to an increase in ketamine referrals in the area. Dr Roche explained to Leeds Student how people will sometimes use more ketamine to reduce the pain they are experiencing in their bladders, however this aggravates the problem. ‘Party drugs’ are commonly seen to be ‘safer’ and with fewer health costs than more highly classified drugs.
West Yorkshire Police’s Drugs Co-ordinator Bryan Dent said: “We know that youngsters are opting to take New Psychoative Substances over other drugs such as Heroin and Crack Cocaine, but have no idea of the dangers they pose to them especially when consumed with alcohol.”
An anonymous Leeds University student expressed their concern at the news: “I’ve had problems with my bladder for a while now and I’m really worried that it is to do with the fact that I used to take a lot of Ket. I’m definitely going to get it checked out.” Another student told Leeds Student that health concerns are not usually taken into consideration and the new health scare would not put him off: “If you’re going to take a drug, you’re going to do it regardless of consequences – you’re not thinking about that kind of stuff.”
This comes at the same time as statistics from The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse revealing that 6,486 people were treated for problems relating to club drugs in England, up from 4,656 people in 2006. The Union’s Welfare Officer, Katie Sidall, said: “I find the warnings about ‘ketamine bladder syndrome’ very worrying and would encourage students to think seriously before taking the drug..”
The Leeds club drug clinic runs a confidential student drop in 2.30-5pm at LUU where students can talk about issues relating to themselves or others. Other information and advice can also be found at www.leedsclubdrugclinic.com or www.talktofrank.com.
Words: Rebecca Peartree