From training to campaigning.
How often do we worry about trying to keep up with every new danger drug to hit the headlines? The age of fast news has us googling at every tweet and risking missing far more important elements of the job. In this month’s cover story, Kevin Flemen offers a reassuring guide to staying ahead of novel psychoactive compounds, using existing skills to respond calmly and effectively. There’s a varied alcohol theme running through this issue, as minimum pricing arguments continue to rage. Alcohol Concern’s conference tackled parental alcohol misuse (page 6), Adfam look at why families often struggle for so long without seeking help (page 14) and Joss Smith asks what we can do to make support groups more relevant to men (page 13). In this month’s Soapbox (page 21), Andy Stonard waves a burning torch at our hypocritical attitude to booze.
Adding our voice to the Support. Don’t punish campaign (page 20) was a no-brainer. The global campaign, endorsed by many high-profile figures, aims to highlight the harms caused by criminalising and stigmatising people who use drugs, and show humane policy alternatives. Visit the website – www.supportdontpunish.org – to add your support and reinforce the message that stigma and repression should never be tolerated.
The provision of drug consumption rooms will be considered in a meeting of Brighton and Hove’s Safe in the City partnership board at the end of this month, as well as by the city’s health and wellbeing board.
The proposal is one of a number in a report from the Independent Drugs Commission for Brighton and Hove, which was commissioned by the city council. Among the other recommended measures are more training in naloxone administration and the collection of ‘real time’ data on drug-use patterns and drug supply routes, to allow treatment, education and enforcement agencies to ‘respond more quickly to changing trends’.
The report also calls for a more creative use of social media as part of education and support services for younger people, and urges that young people’s services be separate, so that younger users ‘don’t have to mix with older, more established users’.
There are around 2,000 problem heroin and cocaine users in the city, according to the commission, with almost 1,500 people attended drug treatment services in Brighton in 2011-12.
‘We have a relatively high number of drug users in the city, and in the past we have had high numbers of drug-related deaths,’ said Brighton and Hove director of public health, Tom Scanlon. ‘We have come a long way from the peak in 2000 when 67 Brighton and Hove residents died from drug use. While this has fallen to 20 deaths, each of these still represents a personal tragedy for the person concerned and for families and friends.’
The city intended to work closely with key partners to ‘make sure that the ideas in the report complement our work on helping people fully recover,’ he stated.
Anyone trying to keep abreast of novel psychoactive compounds (NPCs) will know what a daunting task this can be. My inbox is constantly refilling with bulletins informing me of new compounds, alongside emails from frontline workers asking about substances that their clients are experimenting with. As with any new development, a flurry of new responses emerges. In an echo of the period after the crack strategy was published, some agencies are creating ‘NPC worker’ posts. Elsewhere, commentators are using use the emergence of NPCs as evidence for stricter laws or as proof of the failure of prohibition, according to their ideology.
Closer to the coalface, one can spend thankless hours reading through forum accounts of people’s latest psychedelic experiments, while their peers, with varying levels of knowledge, discuss the finer points of pharmacology.
In much the same way that an incautious worker can get drawn in to the chaotic presentation of their client, so the researcher exploring NPCs can get so swept along in the novelty, uncertainty and confusion that they lose sight of some pragmatic responses. I’ve found myself in this situation, chasing the illusory white rabbit in numerous forum threads. Over the past few months in training sessions, another set of responses has started to emerge, which can offer a useful approach: [Read more...]
How can we encourage men to access support groups, says Joss Smith
Adfam was set up by the mother of a drug user who was in search of support but unfortunately could not find any. This situation has been repeated over the last 29 years across the country and today there are many community family support groups set up by family members who have themselves experienced the impacts of drug and alcohol use on the family.
In the large majority of these communities the groups are set up, facilitated and attended by women, with men significantly under represented. Adfam launched its Including Diverse Families project in 2007 and included ‘men’ as a diverse group to try and address this issue. However, across the country, men are still not accessing the support groups, one-to-one sessions and services family support offers. [Read more...]
Knowing enough about each novel psychoactive compound that emerges in time to help clients can feel like an impossible task. Kevin Flemen gives a pragmatic approach to staying ahead Anyone trying to … [Read More...]
Adfam share new research that reveals why families often struggle for a long time before seeking help with a problem drinker. Drugs and alcohol are often grouped together in discussions of substance … [Read More...]
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