Scotland has good news to report where drug-related deaths are concerned. According to the Helensburgh Advertiser, the number of drug-related deaths in the Argyll and Bute Council area fell to just five in 2013; this is down 50% since 2011. Moreover, although Argyll Bute is one small area, their numbers reflect national trends. Across Scotland, there has been a 9% drop. Just 526 deaths were recorded last year.
There is some bad news to report, however. The number of deaths related to the use of legal highs has skyrocketed. The NHS reports such deaths have doubled in Scotland, even as they are increasing throughout the UK. Legal high substances seem to be growing in prevalence nearly everywhere.
According to Mike Tweddle of the Helensburgh Addiction Rehabilitation Team (HART), those they see for issues relating to legal highs tend to be younger people up to age 30. He said that it is very difficult to keep up with all the new drugs because these are coming onto the market so fast. He suggested there are new drugs to deal with on a weekly basis.
What Is Working
Addiction recovery providers in Scotland have been working hard to assist those in need whenever possible. Their dedication is partly responsible for the declining drug-related deaths. So, what is it that seems to be working?
An NHS Highland representative told the Helensburgh Advertiser that they are seeing good results from making referrals to charities and private treatment providers. He said that individuals could be referred by a GP, social worker or the criminal justice system. He went on to point out that treatment providers offer a full range of options that cover everything from detox to psychotherapeutic treatment to help making lifestyle changes.
In a nutshell, treatment providers in Scotland are succeeding by treating the whole individual rather than just one aspect of addiction. At Addiction Helper, this is something we have always advocated. The fact is that addiction is more than just a physical issue. It is an issue that also involves the mind and emotions.
When detox is the only method of treatment offered to an individual, the chances of relapse are significantly high. Why? Because detox only deals with the physical side of the equation. Yes, 7 to 10 days of separation from addictive substances does break the physical dependence of the addict. However, it does nothing to address thought patterns and emotions that enable addiction from the start.
Psychotherapeutic treatment needs to be offered alongside detox if a recovering addict is to be made whole. Psychotherapeutic treatments are effective in retraining the mind and harnessing the emotions in a positive manner. Treatment can include things such as cognitive behavioural therapy, group counselling and support, and 12-step work.
At HART, they are embracing creativity in their treatment programmes. For example, Tweddle says his organisation has introduced cookery classes as part of comprehensive treatment for alcoholics and drug addicts. Not only do these classes teach clients a valuable skill, but these also add purpose and meaning by helping clients understand that they are capable of accomplishing great things.
Time for Treatment
Addiction Helper is thrilled to know that drug-related deaths are down in Scotland. We hope to see the same thing across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well. To that end, we are here to assist addicts and their families who need assistance with treatment referrals.
We invite you to call our 24-hour recovery helpline to speak with one of our trained counsellors. We can provide you with the advice and referrals you need to overcome substance abuse.