Leader: LEAP project deserves much more support

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IT IS a story of hope and encouragement for those whose lives have been blighted by alcohol or drug addiction.

Addiction is a crushing condition not only for those who suffer directly but also their friends and family.

Recovery can be a long and daunting process and not all persevere successfully. But those who do set a tremendous example for those struggling to regain an ordered, worthwhile and productive life.

One such is Julie Bleasdale, a mother-of-six who lost control of her life to alcohol.

Denial is very often part and parcel of the condition. Many just do not want to admit that they have lost control of their lives. And because of this they do not realise until too late how psychologically destructive as well as physically impairing such dependence can be. Depression sets in as addiction works to undermine self-esteem and self-confidence. Without professional help Julie went into a downward spiral, trapped and unable to cope. She turned to anti-depressants to try to deal with the hopelessness and guilt that engulfed her life.

In August she suffered an inevitable breakdown. Police took her to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Doctors at the Morningside psychiatric facility suggested she take part in the Lothian and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme (LEAP).

It was advice that transformed her life. The 12-week programme at the Astley Ainsley Hospital in Morningside enabled her to find her feet and fight back.

Now she has become the 450th graduate of the rehabilitation service.

Run in partnership with the city council, the ground-breaking programme offers clinical, medical and therapeutic to around 20 patients at a time.

Julie now hopes to help others struggling with addiction by becoming a peer support worker and going back to college to study counselling.

It is a personal story of courage aided by timely and professional help. Here is an innovative scheme that has made a real difference to Julie and her family and that will inspire others to follow her example. It deserves every support and encouragement.