Here's how recovering addicts in Edinburgh can get help amid coronavirus lockdown

Edinburgh health professionals have insisted plans are in place to help those in recovery from addiction during the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 6th April 2020, 6:36 pm
Updated Monday, 6th April 2020, 6:37 pm

Face-to-face support meetings have been cancelled during lockdown, but NHS Lothian said support is still available to individuals, services and vulnerable groups.

Professor Alison McCallum, Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian, said: “In NHS Lothian we are aware that the current situation with COVID-19 may increase the risk of drug and alcohol relapses.

"We have local teams and a multi disciplinary Lothian wide team who are doing assessments and have plans in place for individuals, services and vulnerable groups to help prevent and respond to risks of relapse.”

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Plans are in place to help recovering addicts during the coronavirus outbreak

According to official statistics, drug-related deaths have more than doubled in the Capital over the last ten years.

There were 95 fatalities in 2018 compared to 45 in 2009 while National Records of Scotland figures also reveal a massive decade rise in the Lothians as a whole - from 81 to 152.

Tony Duncan, Head of Strategic Planning, Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “This is a very difficult time for everyone and is of course stressful for those recovering from drug and alcohol issues as isolation, stress and disruption of normal routines can all contribute to addiction problems.

“We would like to reassure everyone that services are still running, and recovery groups and communities are still offering support, although like most groups, these are having to be offered differently at the moment and we are asking people to phone us rather than dropping into their usual group in person.

“We are not aware of an increase in addiction issues due to the current restrictions in place, but we will be monitoring this constantly and keeping a close eye on our case load.

“Treatment can help anyone wanting to make safe changes in their drug or alcohol use and we would encourage anyone who is concerned about their own drinking or drug use, or someone else’s to get in touch with our services and seek advice and support.”

Crew 2000, who provide information, advice and support around drug use, has temporarily closed its drop-in space on Cockburn Street in the centre of Edinburgh due to the coronavirus outbreak.

But the harm reduction charity said it is re-organising services to be delivered remotely, and is working with the local Alcohol and Drug Partnership to identify how else they can support people who use drugs to reduce harm.

"Crew services has been affected by COVID-19 but we are doing our best to make sure we can offer support, information and advice during this difficult time," said a spokesperson for the charity.

"Our counselling service is also no longer operating face to face sessions. Crew Counselling is working hard to set up and hopefully be able to offer alternative options to face-to-face counselling."

Crew 2000 has created some resources that cover how to reduce the risk of it spreading including some resources for sex, drugs, mental health and well being in what can be a stressful time. You can access via www.crew.scot.

North Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Centre (NEDAC), in the city's Muirhouse and Pilton district, also had to change the way they do things due to the coronavirus outbreak - but the service, which sprung out of the heroin epidemic that swept through Edinburgh in the 1980s, hopes it can continue to provide direct support to the most vulnerable substance users.

"All staff are now working from home and our office has closed," said a spokesperson for NEDAC. "The way we are supporting people has changed.

"We are making alternative arrangements for supporting people. Rather than meeting face-to-face we will be offering phone or text support."

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