Abstinence-focused drug rehab provided by former addicts given boost

A groundbreaking drug and alcohol dependence treatment through which former addicts support their peers has been given a funding boost amid a “national catastrophe of drugs deaths”.

Thursday, 25th July 2019, 6:18 pm
Drugs-related deaths in Edinburgh have doubled over the last decade

Last week it was revealed that drugs-related deaths in Edinburgh have doubled over the last 10 years while figures revealed there were a 1,187 deaths in Scotland during 2018 – the most since records began and the highest rate in the EU.

A political row emerged over the UK Government’s refusal to allow drugs consumption rooms to be used. Campaigners claim they provide a safe space for addicts to consume drugs with medical support and sterilised equipment, but Westminster insists the move would condone drug use. New Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is set to have discussions with Scottish ministers over the rising number of drug deaths.

But an abstinence-focused project that has been successfully operating since 2007, has seen positive results in helping people in the Capital move away from substance abuse.

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LEAP (Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme) is a residential rehabilitation treatment programme aimed at abstinence – but organisers insist it is not users going ‘cold turkey’ as users are given intensive support.

The service is delivered by partners NHS Lothian, the City of Edinburgh Council and Encompass. Up to 20 patients at a time can undergo the three-month treatment programme – and are supported by 10 to 15 peer supporters, many of whom are former addicts.

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Drug-related deaths in Edinburgh DOUBLE in ten years

“LEAP was set up 12 years ago as a government pilot and was quite controversial when it started, but it has had positive outcomes. It fits in well with the range of services that are being delivered. There’s a significant amount of people who remain drug free by the end of it.”

The project has been handed £83,653 of Lottery community funding to develop its peer support programme amid what Dr McCartney labelled a “national catastrophe of drug deaths”.

“We can also invest some of the money into a range of other things including training of the support peers themselves. It will also improve the quality of the treatment programme for current patients and support them to stick with treatment to the end of the three month programme. We are delighted at the news.”

Edinburgh health bosses were branded “perverse” after £1.3m of drug and alcohol addiction funding has been held back in order to help fill a black hole in under-pressure finances – but the funding boost for LEAP has been welcomed.

Brian Quinn, trained peer supporter said: “I’m passionate about LEAP and I’m

passionate about the peer support mentoring programme. I believe that this money will make a massive difference, not just to the peer supporters, who will benefit, but there will also be a direct impact on patients as they go through the programme.

“Peer supporters are a positive role model and allow patients to look up to someone they can trust. This will make a significant and lasting impact on not just current peer supporters, but future patients and peer supporters.”