Chair, Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
Consultant Psychiatrist, Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Policy Fellow, Centre for Science and Policy
After qualifying in medicine, Owen worked in the Australian health system for three years before returning to London to undertake his psychiatry training on the Charing Cross and St Mary’s rotation. He completed his Masters at Imperial College London and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2013. Owen founded the award-winning Club Drug Clinic in 2010, an innovative service for people experiencing harms from novel psychoactive substances, and has since published popular national training on this topic. He has also developed and delivered international training on behalf of the European Union and United Nations. Owen has received a National Clinical Excellence award continuously since 2014.
Mental health problems in young adults is a particular research interest and Owen is an expert adviser to the Universities UK Drugs Taskforce which is developing a UK wide response to student drug use. He founded and runs a number of mental health clinics for students which have been co-produced with students and university staff. Owen has published widely including overseeing more than thirty reports for Government on illegal drug harms, two textbooks and several book chapters. He lectures widely both nationally and internationally and is a trustee for two international academic societies.
Owen has extensive experience of working with the UK Government including regular meetings with the Home Secretary, other ministers and senior officials to brief them on illegal drugs in his role as chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs consists of more than twenty national experts with broad expertise of drug harms including enforcement, treatment, toxicology, chemistry, psychopharmacology and criminology. Owen oversees the strategic direction and all functions of the Council. In this role he has been directly involved in developing a number of high-profile policies including the re-scheduling of cannabis-based products for medicinal use and reducing the barriers to controlled drug research for legitimate UK industry and academia. Most recently he has chaired the development of a national drug prevention strategy. Owen is also a member of the broader Home Office Science Advisory Council which co-ordinates science across a wide range of Home Office priorities. He has given evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, All Party Parliamentary Groups and House of Lords committees.
Owen speaks frequently in the media about drug use and mental health including print, radio and television. He has written an award-winning book for parents about having conversations with their children relating to drug use and regularly talks at schools, universities and festivals. Owen has been named the Royal College of Psychiatrists ‘communicator of the year’ and was also awarded a Health Foundation Leadership Fellowship. His clinical team has been a finalist for ‘Mental Health Team of the year’ (2019 BMJ awards) and ‘Psychiatric Team of the year’ (2020 Royal College of Psychiatrists). Owen is an honorary professor at University College London and has been principal investigator on a number of large research and quality improvement grants.