Programme Proves Drug And Booze Addiction Is Beatable
25 June 2008
By DAVID McCARTNEY
RECOVERY from addiction is at the heart of the Government's
new drug policy just published in Scotland. It's also central to what we do
at LEAP (Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme).
Our clients come to us because they are fed up with a life that revolves around drugs and alcohol. You might think that if drugs and alcohol were causing bother they should just stop. Well, in most cases they've tried that and found that they can't. ADVERTISEMENT
This is the most perplexing thing about addiction for those not affected. Tragic things happen to addicts and alcoholics, yet despite these horrors, they find they cannot stop using. We have had clients who have lost their jobs, their savings, their health, their partners; even their children and yet they continue to use.
There is however some good news about addiction. Recovery is possible. Many of those suffering from addiction want to become drug free. They want freedom and to live life fully. Since we established LEAP at the end of last year, we've had 250 people wanting to come onto our programme. Twenty-seven have now completed the programme.
When people come to LEAP for their first assessment there is a common theme: hopelessness. Addicts have trouble believing that things could ever get better. That's why we introduce them to clients currently in treatment at the programme. We have a thriving therapeutic community and a bustling, lively aftercare programme. When addicts and alcoholics see communities of recovering people, it becomes a possibility in their minds that it can happen for them too. This is the first stage in recovery: hope.
The community at LEAP is not the only evidence of recovery at work. In Scotland we have around 1200 self-help or mutual-aid groups meeting every week. In church halls, community centres and rented spaces the 12-step groups: Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meet regularly. They are growing in number.
LEAP offers supported accommodation through our partners City of Edinburgh Council. Our colleagues there work with clients to find housing solutions for those who complete the three month programme. We also open up pathways to employment in partnership with 'Transition', a vocational training organisation which helps recovering clients back to work, education or training.
Our programme is not an easy option. It is a community based service requiring motivation and stamina. Our experienced team provides a great deal of support but ultimately it is the individual in treatment who has to put the work in. Our programme has community at its heart; a recovering community which helps give people (and their families) a life back.
• Dr David McCartney is clinical lead at LEAP. For information phone LEAP on 0131 332 3228 or visit www.nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk/ourservices/leap/default.asp