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Dayhab: A solution to the alcohol and drug 'epidemic'

By Chip Somers

Chip somers on the alcohol and drug epidemic.

The recent research findings from Kings College London do not come as a surprise to me. What do we expect when there have been such massive cuts to alcohol rehab services? As the report shows, since the withdrawal of funding in England for essential services, alcohol and drug-related problems have reached epidemic levels.

As the report shows, and  ‘More than £100m has been cut since services in England were reorganised in 2012’ meaning that in England people with alcohol problems are ‘less than half as likely to receive the right help as those in Scotland and Wales’. The study found that, on average, drug and alcohol services in England had lost 30% of their budgets since 2013-14. The knock-on effect is a 26% rise in alcohol and drug-related deaths.

Alcohol and drug misuse kills people. Addiction is an illness, and like all illnesses it needs specialist treatment. The government’s harm reduction programmes don’t treat the problem – they just alleviate the symptoms with prescription drugs. People suffering from alcohol and drug problems need help for the underlying mental conditions that cause them to drink and use drugs at hazardous levels.  But there are few options left for them.

With long waiting lists for the almost non-existent free services, residential rehab is usually then next place people look to for help. Many traditional residential rehabs do a fantastic job, but there are barriers. Firstly the average cost for 5 weeks of treatment can be £25,000 or more. And secondly many people find it very difficult to be away from work and family for weeks on end. What’s more, once they return from the protected environment of the rehab, many find returning to ‘normal’ life difficult, hence high relapse rates.

When I was first asked to get involved with Help Me Stop I immediately knew this was a much-needed new concept in treatment for alcohol and drug problems. The model is based on the popular and effective ‘Intensive Outpatient’ programmes in the U.S, which have been proven to be as effective or even more so than residential. While there are some non-residential programmes in the UK, they are few and far between and are usually an ‘add-on’ to residential treatment. Help Me Stop is the first in the UK to provide dedicated, intensive treatment and support for clients that fits around their daily life.

In an ideal world, treatment would be funded. But with the current situation the Help Me Stop Programme offers a real chance of recovery for the average cost of a holiday in Spain. At £2,500 for a 5-week, 160-hour programme, or £16 an hour, our costs are affordable for most people. And will save on the high costs of a lifetime of addiction.


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