A PIONEERING new centre offering a one-stop shop for people seeking help with drug and alcohol problems has opened in the Capital.
The South East Recovery Hub, opened by Kenny MacAskill yesterday, offers drop-in facilities and brings together NHS, council and voluntary services ranging from detox programmes to peer support groups.
It is the first of its type in the Lothians, and thought to be one of the first in Scotland.
The Hub is housed in the former home of the Castle Project in Craigmillar Castle Road, which has remained on site as one of six voluntary sector organisations contributing to the project.
The Castle Project has already helped many people with drug and alcohol problems, among them Karen from Newington, who met Mr MacAskill at the opening to tell him about her experiences.
By the time Karen, 48, decided to seek help with her drinking, she was consuming four or five bottles of wine every day and spending up to £14,000 a year on alcohol.
Last year, she finally reached breaking point and sought help.
Karen – who asked that we withhold her surname – said: “I went to my GP in March last year and said ‘I’m an alcoholic, I’ve spent 20 years drinking’ and came out into the open about it which was really hard, but also a great big relief.”
The doctor put her name down for a detox programme with a community psychiatric nurse (CPN), but there was a long wait. Eventually, she went back to ask again. She said: “I said ‘You need to help me, I don’t want to drink’ and they put me on detox at home.”
She stuck to the programme with help from her husband and weekly visits to the Castle Project. “About 12 weeks after I hadn’t been drinking I had been offered to do a six-week programme about how to think about not drinking, and it’s really helped me. The support you get here is amazing.”
It has now been five and a half months since she drank. She has lost three and a half stone, and redecorated her living room with the money she has saved by not buying alcohol.
But she says if it was not for her own tenacity in seeking help, things could have been different – and better co-ordination between the NHS and voluntary sector, such as that offered by the Recovery Hub, is crucial.
“It was September before I heard from the CPN and personally I think if I hadn’t pushed to get help from my doctor I could have been dead by September,” she said. “But once they’re all under one roof it will make such a difference.”
She welcomed the opening of the new Hub, which is aimed at those living in south-east Edinburgh. “What I’ve found in here is that it doesn’t matter where you come from and what walk of life, whether you’re up on top level of your profession or down on the floor with nothing, we’re all equal in here.”
Mr MacAskill said after the opening: “I was delighted to be invited to launch the Alcohol and Drug Recovery Hub. The Hub offers an extensive range of services and I have no doubt that many will benefit from the valuable support on offer.”
Peter Gabbitas, chairman of the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership, added: “This offers access to a comprehensive range of services in one place, such as detoxification and peer support. It also removes waiting times and makes the services easier to access.”