Submitted by Mary Glover
I am Mary Glover, MSc BSc CQSW and I am a Social
Worker at the Community Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Service, 28
High Street, Dorchester, Dorset. Tel 01305 265635. My comments
are personal and not necessarily representative of my agency.
I have worked for Social Services since 1976.
Since qualification I have spent five years in a child protection
team, and seven years in the drug team at CADAS.
I am working in the treatment field, working
mainly with parents who are opiate dependent. I don't feel that
the Government's Drug Policy is working well in this particular
area and I have the following concerns:
We "know" that the way opiate dependent
people achieve success (in that they reduce the harm they are
doing, or that they become abstinent) is through long term treatment
which involves a holistic approachsupport, counselling,
practical help, liaison with housing, benefits, CAB, probation
etc, alongside monitoring and giving advice about child care issues.
However this approach is greatly under pressure
through the need to "manage the numbers". The medical
model is on the increase, with nurses trained to do little other
than monitor blood pressures and not deal with the underlying
complexities of substance misuse, or address the multitude of
social and psychological drug-related problems which have accrued
over the years.
This isn't just another rant about the issue
of nurses v social workers (because of course there any many experienced
nurses who work holistically and in a person-centred way with
their clients and social workers who do not), but it IS a rant
against taking the simplistic medical model as the way to get
people through the system as quickly as possible. It just doesn't
work. People forced to complete short term detoxes, who aren't
at the appropriate stage in their drug use and commitment to change,
and without any accompanying therapeutic help, have no chance
of success. Then, having "failed" they are told that
they have to wait a number of months before they are allowed to
try again. My team have not yet started this but there are feelings
of pressure building up to do this.
It is important that people feel they are involved
in their treatment choice. This is the way to gain people's commitment
to their treatment. We have very few treatment optionsbut
in other areas there is a far greater variety of treatments. Also,
GP's interpret the DOH guidelines differentlysome prescribing,
some not. This inconsistency is totally unfair.
Needle Exchanges are crucial, and the local
policies are critical. The UK has done extremely well in managing
the potential crisis with HIV/AIDS. Now of course we also have
to consider hepatitis B & C, and not enough people are able
to access needles. Rules such as having to give a used needle
back to obtain a clean one, don't work for really chaotic drug
users. Achieving returns should remain secondary to the fundamental
priority aim of ensuring that those who need needles receive them.