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I have, or I know someone that has, a problem with drink or drugs – What are my options?

By Chris Cordell

Despite the valiant effort of Britain’s drug and alcohol professionals the UK has a growing drug and alcohol problem.

Drug and alcohol picture

  • The UK is the cocaine capital of Europe and its nothing to be proud about. 23kg of cocaine is consumed each day in London alone and what was previously a drug with a purity level of approximately 4% is now circulating in the UK as high as 30-40%.
  • Cocaine related hospital attendance are at an all-time high
  • Drug related deaths are the highest since records began in 1993
  • The cannabis used now is not the leafy stuff of the 1960s. 94% of the cannabis used in the UK is high potency skunk
  • A major new study has found that smoking skunk every day made people five times more likely to develop mental health problems
  • Scientists have concluded that smoking any type of cannabis daily tripled the chances of developing psychosis
  • 141,000 more people are using Ketamine than in previous years
  • (G) GHB and GBL use is on the rise and overdosing is a frequent risk as there is not much difference (less than one millilitre) between a dose that gets a person high, and a dose that has someone “going under” – becoming unconscious and unresponsive
  • Prescription addiction is on the rise. Over 5 million people in the UK are estimated to have an addiction to prescribed medication
  • In England alone there are an estimated 586,780 dependent drinkers with only 18% receiving treatment and last year there 1.26 million hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption – an 8% rise
  • Not including those that are dependently drinking it is estimated that in England alone 9 million men and 5 million women are drinking at harmful levels
  • Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver, and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver; and depression

Taking all of the above into account and the fact that investment from the government in drug and alcohol treatment services has decreased by £163 million since 2013 it is little wonder that people are left wondering what to do and where to go if they have concerns about drug and alcohol use.

Where to get help for drugs and alcohol

GP: - Your GP can be a great first port of call. Here, you will be able to discuss your problems and they will be able to outline some of your options. Unfortunately, over the years the number of GP’s that have additional specialist training in drug and alcohol misuse has decreased significantly. In the past many GP surgeries had also funding to offer additional service at their practice and you could be seen for treatment there if your problems were of a low level. However, these services are now rare and as such many GP’s will signpost you to your local free community drug and alcohol service.

As a rule, your GP will not mention what is available to you privately and as such there may be more appropriate and quicker access services available to you that you know nothing about. For example, Dayhab is a new low-cost private treatment option that can be undertaken while someone is still working and living at home.

In our experience, we have also found that individuals with drug and alcohol problems are not always comfortable going to their GP and prefer to approach external private and community addiction services directly themselves. This is particularly the case when it is not the individual with the drug and alcohol problem looking for advice and help, which is the case in the majority of enquiries.

We’re here to talk about this if you’d like to learn more. Call us now on 0208 191 8920 or email us directly https://helpmestop.org.uk/contact-us

Local Authority Funded Community Services: - These services tend to be delivered by charities through funding they receive from the Local Authority and are therefore free to access. They are commissioned to enable and support individual recovery from drug and alcohol problems through appropriate treatment to live healthy, safe and crime free lives. Most of the treatment they provide is delivered by recovery practitioners or project workers with NVQ’s in health and social care. In many cases these services will also provide community medical services particular to those clients needing treatment from heroin, as well as providing a needle exchange service. Accessing the Frank website is a great way to find one of these services in your area https://www.talktofrank.com/get-help/find-support-near-you

However many of these services have a harm reduction focus as opposed to an abstinent one. Harm reduction refers to practices that try to reduce the harm that people do to themselves or others from their drug and alcohol use. Harm reduction, therefore, focuses on ‘safer’ drug or alcohol use or managed use and as such abstinence isn’t always the immediate goal. This being the case they may not be the best fit for everyone but they are free.

Residential Rehab: - A residential rehab is one in which an individual receives treatment while staying in the facility. Residential programmes offer 24-hour support and in most cases, they have the ability to do medical detoxes. Residential programmes are the most effective option for individuals with severe drug and alcohol problems particularly if the individual has other mental health problems and those needing an inpatient medical detox as opposed to a community one. They are also recommended for people who may not have a stable support structure at home or secure housing.

Some residential rehabs can be accessed free of charge through local funded community drug and alcohol services, but the process is not quick. Predominantly this is because funding for places has been cut year on year and there are more and more people “bidding” on less and less places. Because of these waiting lists of 3, 6 or more months to access places are not uncommon.

Most fully residential rehabs are staffed by qualified doctors, nurses, and qualified psychotherapists.

There are also quasi residential rehabs which offer the same sort of treatment programmes as fully residential service, but the individuals live in a “sober living house” in between the treatment opening times. Quasi residential rehabs usually run a treatment programme between the hours of 9am and 5pm, with shortened hours at the weekends and bank holidays.

In most cases a residential rehab programme will require the individual to be with them for a minimum of 28 days.

Due the nature of long waits many individuals will look to private residential treatment but with the costs of these being anywhere from £4,000 to £6,000 or more per week this is out of the reach for most people. Furthermore, many people cannot afford, financially or occupationally, to be off work for 28 days. The added complication of childcare and other commitments means going away somewhere for 28 days is just not that easy.

Moreover, many people that have drug and alcohol problems do not actually need residential treatment as their level of severity means that they can get the intensive treatment they need in the community through new innovations like Dayhab.

We’re here to talk about this if you’d like to learn more. Call us now on 0208 191 8920 or email us directly https://helpmestop.org.uk/contact-us

Dayhab :- Developed in the US over 10 years ago, the Dayhab (or intensive outpatient) model of treatment has shown its value to the modern world and is the primary first treatment option for most Americans. With success rates matching and exceeding residential treatment, this flexible and non-residential model makes intensive alcohol and drug treatment available to more people than ever. Based on intensive group and one-to-one therapy and elements of the 12-step approach, Dayhab programmes are further strengthened by an increased emphasis on family support and aftercare. Like residential rehab Dayhab programmes are run by qualified addiction psychotherapists with the primary goal of supporting clients in behaviour change and long-term abstinence.

Unlike traditional “day programmes” or residential services individuals are not required to be onsite everyday and because they are delivered in the community individuals can continue to live at home and manage childcare. In many cases services are delivered part-time during the day and in the evenings, meaning individuals can fit treatment around work.

With the advent of secure video conferencing Dayhab programmes can also be accessed online both during the day and in the evenings making them ideal for people that can’t physically get to Dayhab centres or want something more accessible around work and home life.

In general, Dayhabs are not funded by the local Authority but come in at 1/10 of the cost of residential treatment with similar, if not better outcomes.

CA, NA, AA and SMART:- In the context of peer support groups like AA, NA and CA they usually refer to a group of people who share similar recovery goals. 12 Step groups like CA, NA and AA are the most well-known of all the peer support groups. There are also other groups such as SMART Recovery.  It should be noted that these groups offer peer support, not professional psychotherapy and although some individuals have managed to obtain and sustain abstinence entirely though going to meetings many people find that on its own it is not enoughPeer support meetings take place regularly, and encourage open, honest, encouraging discourse and an environment in which all those hoping to achieve sustained abstinence are able to benefit. Meetings are run by their members and not by qualified trained addiction psychotherapists and should not be confused with professional group psychotherapy that is undertaken in residential or Dayhab type services.

Almost all professional treatment services run my qualified addiction psychotherapists will recommend individuals accessing peer support groups as part of their treatment and relapse prevention plans. Why is this? Well quite simply its because the evidence suggests that undertaking intensive psychotherapy and accessing peer support groups gives the best outcomes in long term absence. But there are other reasons:

Those people who are new to addiction treatment often battle with loneliness. They know that it is unwise to have further contact with many former friends because of their drink and drug use so this can devastate their social network. By joining peer support groups, it allows the individual to build a new network of friends who share similar goals and aspirations.

Belonging to a peer support group where the focus is on abstinence keeps the individual motivated to remain abstinent. It is not uncommon for an individual that has been abstinent for a while to forget how bad things were, they become complacent and this is highly dangerous because it could lead to relapse. Regularly hearing about the challenges of others can help to keep people present and alert to the dangers of complacency and relapse.

There are many challenges in early abstinence that are difficult to face alone. Peer support will not only be able to offer support, but also practical advice. Those who have been abstinent longer will have more experience and will usually have faced similar problems and are a good resource for practical tips.

The urge to relapse can occur at any time during early abstinence. It can overwhelm the individual if they are not prepared for it. If they belong to a peer support group, they will be able to turn to this group of people for support. Sometimes just talking to somebody who understands can be enough to prevent a relapse.

Next Steps

If you or a loved one is suffering from drug and alcohol problems and wants to stop the problems before they get worse, there are options for you. Help Me Stop’s intensive non-residential Dayhab programme offers effective intensive psychotherapy, accessible aftercare, and family support options to minimise the risk of relapse.

Our 6-week evening online Digital Dayhab programme is even more accessible and is just as effective. It’s an excellent choice for adults who may have a smaller budget and are working and can’t access services in the day. Families can also access support online.

We’re here to talk about this if you’d like to learn more. Call us now on 0208 191 8920 or email us directly https://helpmestop.org.uk/contact-us