Overcoming any addiction can be challenging at the best of times; however, it is entirely possible. A lot of addicts will experience an addiction relapse when trying to beat their addiction, but this is entirely normal. It is not uncommon for those who have experienced relapse, to feel like a failure and a ‘hopeless case’, but trying to kick the addiction that you have suffered with for so long is a difficult process. The people who judge an addict are often those who have had very little or no experience at all in regards to addiction.
Those who abuse drugs such as heroin often suffer from an addiction relapse because withdrawing from the drug can be so difficult. It is common for people trying to quit heroin to suffer from very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms as well as intense cravings that can result in them returning to the drug. Even those who are prescribed methadone may return to street drugs when things get rough.
With so many individuals being treated for a heroin addiction with methadone and being essentially ‘parked’ on the drug for years and years, there are some who believe that heroin addicts should be treated with medical heroin instead.
Stepping Stone to Potentially Prevent Addiction Relapse
It has been reported that plans for ‘fix rooms’, which will enable drug addicts to safely inject themselves under the supervision of medical professionals in Glasgow, are likely to be approved. It is expected that members of the city council, police and the health board will agree with the proposed plans as it aims to recognise the issues caused by the estimated 500 users who inject on the streets of Glasgow.
It is also anticipated that plans for ‘heroin-assisted treatment’ will get the go ahead too. This potential plan would mean that users will be provided with medical-grade heroin that they will be permitted to inject under supervision. This approach is to tackle the ongoing issue with drug abusers feeling that they have no other option but to take drugs on the streets. This idea will hopefully provide a stepping stone for these addicts as they move into recovery, and it could potentially prevent any further addiction relapse in the process.
Both proposals will be reviewed by the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board. The plan for opening a facility where addicts can safely inject in the city was considered by the Glasgow City Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP). They are a multi-agency group that aim to tackle drug and alcohol issues, as instructed by the Scottish Government.
Extension of Current Opioid Substitution Therapy Services
ADP have insisted that the drug abusers who are injecting on the streets are to blame for a large chunk of discarded needles, which are a massive health and public order problem. ADP have explained that street users will face many issues including poverty, homelessness and mental health concerns. Along with these problems, they are also at an increased risk of developing blood-borne viruses, overdose, injecting-related concerns, and death by drug use.
If the facility does go ahead, it would require an extension of the current opioid substitution therapy services so that it includes heroin assisted treatment and a peer support network. Should this facility be accepted, it would be the first one in the whole of the UK. As estimated by the Scottish Drugs Forum, there are approximately ninety other injecting facilities around the globe, with many of these in European countries such as Germany, France and Holland.
David Liddell, SDF’s forum director, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland that we are in ‘desperate need’ for this kind of facility, especially in Glasgow where there is an HIV outbreak within the street drug users community. He added, “I know it’s been highlighted as controversial, but when you see that these have been running in many countries in Europe for a long time – Holland for example now has 31 drug consumption rooms and Germany has 24. These are in addition to the existing provision. The key point is we have people who are mostly long-term users – people have been using for more than 20 years or more. Abstinence recovery is not on their immediate horizon. The most immediate thing for these individuals is the need to keep them alive so they can recover in the future.”
Professor Neil McKeaganey, founder of the Centre of Drug Misuse Research, was unimpressed with Mr Liddell’s accusations that the rooms were not controversial. Professor McKeaganey said that Mr Liddell was ‘quite wrong’ to say this about the rooms, saying, “For anyone who’s not an advocate of drugs decriminalisation, they are controversial and they will be seen as such. Some years ago, we surveyed over 1,000 drug addicts in Scotland, and we asked them what they wanted to get from treatment. Less than 5% said they wanted help to inject more safely and the overwhelming majority said they wanted help to become drug-free. These facilities have a role to play, but there is a real danger here we are moving steadily away from services to get addicts off drugs.”
Hopes of Preventing Addiction Relapse
Director of Public Health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and vice-chairwoman of the ADP, Dr Emilia Crighton, explained that the organisation had examined expert evidence from across the world. She explained, “Nowadays, we see that actually most of Europe is providing addiction services. These are safe consumption rooms – Switzerland has a model where there is heroin-assisted treatment and opiates-replacement treatment that satisfies the needs of the population. So, we really have to find a solution that brings the solutions elsewhere in the world to Glasgow.”
The effectiveness of these facilities is promising as they have proved successful in many other countries. The hope of preventing addiction relapse and reducing the overall number of addicts on Glasgow’s streets could depend on these facilities. The aim is to slowly push these addicts away from the drug itself, and by allowing them doses of medical-grade heroin, it should prevent them suffering from an addiction relapse as well.
At Addiction Helper, we recognise that overcoming an addiction is not the easiest of tasks. We will ensure that you feel comfortable and will benefit from any treatments or clinics we recommend for you. Contact us today for any further information.
Source: Self-injection rooms plan for Glasgow drug addicts given green light (BBC News)