Grantham Journal special report: ‘It’s not only the addicts we help but their families’

The Addaction Team
The Addaction Team

Behind the imposing facade of the Addaction building in Grantham High Street is a team working hard to help those who are struggling to cope with drink and drugs.

But the service is keen to point out that it does not simply deal with alcoholics and drug users. It lends its expertise and a sympathetic ear to the families and relatives of those whose lives are affected by alcohol and drugs.

Locality manager at the Grantham office Jo Finch has been with the branch since it opened 13 years ago. She says the service is keen to communicate the fact that its staff are there to help the families and carers of drinkers and drug users who lives can often be severely affected by these issues.

Jo said: “We may have parents come to us who are being bullied for money or children who are neglected by people with an addiction and so we look at all these problems. There are all these additional sorts of emotional, physical and neglect issues.”

The Grantham office is currently dealing with about 200 clients in treatment with various drug and alcohol issues but Jo says that these clients are not all ‘hard core’ heroin users, they are people at all levels of addiction and people who are affected by a variety of issues.

The Grantham branch not only serves the town but also Sleaford, Stamford, Market Deeping and Bourne.

She said: “We work with people who are finding that drugs or alcohol are affecting their lifestyle. It might just be a few glasses of wine a night, but if it is affecting their way of life we will help them get back on track.

“We work closely with social services, but our service is completely confidential and we encourage anybody to come and see us no matter how small the matter is.

“We have a good connection with lots of other agencies and we are a service that likes to work with others so we can deliver the best outcome to the client.”

Addaction has a young person’s team who will work with youngsters under the age of 19. They will meet these clients away from the office.

Jo said: “We sometimes get people ringing us up who say they don’t want to come in and see us because they are afraid somebody they know will see them coming in. In that case we might meet someone at a local cafe and sometimes we will make a home visit.”

Jo would like to see more family members who affected by addiction issues come forward.

“We would like to see more family members because we can support them. I think they are often afraid of confidentiality. People can feel shame if they have someone in the family who has an addiction. But if they come here it is totally confidential and we can offer them advice and show them the steps they can take and assure them that we can help their loved one.

“People can become very isolated over the fears of what is happening to their family and what other people might say, but we totally understand and can help.”

If you need help with any of the above issues or are a family member who would like help, call Addaction in Grantham, in total confidence, on 01476 512950.

* New drug causes concerns

While Grantham court is dealing with numerous drug cases involving cocaine, heroin and cannabis, there is a relatively new drug on the scene which is causing concern.

Commonly known as MCat, this white powder is fast becoming a drug of choice in the Grantham area among those who want a quick fix.

Addaction in Grantham has seen the increase in the numbers of people using it and there are clear reasons for its popularity.

Jo explained: “Over the last year we have seen numbers gradually increase because it is cheaper than other class A drugs and people substitute it for heroin or cannabis or are using as well as these drugs.”

The problem with MCat, or mephedrone, is that there is no substitute for it, whereas, for example, heroin users are often given a treatment of methadone to reduce their addiction.

Mcat was only made illegal in 2010. It is usually snorted, swallowed or smoked, but increasingly users are turning to injecting it which can be dangerous as it is easier to overdose.

As the drug is relatively new, the risks of taking it are largley unknown and research into its affects are ongoing.

Addaction in Grantham has a needle exchange used by hundreds of people. Used needles are exchanged for new ones so used needles “aren’t littering the streets”.

Addaction has a nurse who will give clients health checks and tests for blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B. A doctor also visits the office once a week and will sign prescriptions for controlled drugs in helping people beat their addictions.

Jo said: “These are controlled drugs so clients have to be competent enough to use them. If they have children there could be a risk factor so we need to make sure the community is safe. The same goes for those using the needle exchange.”

Jo said there was not so much of a “legal high” issue in Grantham, but in other parts of the county it is becoming a problem and people are injecting the drugs.

Jo said: “We call them new psychotic substances. We don’t like the term legal high because it makes it sound as if it’s ok to use them. Some of these drugs are more powerful than class A drugs and we do not know what the long-term problems are with using these drugs.”

* Success can be seen in mentors at Addaction

The success of Addaction can be seen in the number of people who are helped by the service and then go on to work for it.

The service has a group of peer mentors and recovery champions who help the service users as examples of people who are recovering from their addictions or who have completely recovered.

Peer mentors are people who are getting close to recovery and want to help in the community. They can represent Addaction in the community. In Grantham peer mentors will attend the two breakfast sessions held at the office and talk to users.

Recovery champions are those who have fully recovered. and are making their way back into society. Often champions will represent Addaction at special event s as an example of how the service can succeed.

For more details on Addaction and how it can help go to www.addaction.org.uk

* What do you think about this subject?

We are keen to hear your views on the work of Addaction. Please send your thoughts, or tell us about your experiences if you have used the service in the past.

We will respect requests for anonymity, but we must have your name, address, email and telephone number for our records.

You can contact the Journal using Twitter, Facebook, email or post - or come to our St Peter’s Hill offices.

Twitter: @GranthamJournal

Facebook: www.facebook.com/granthamjournal

Email: comment@granthamjournal.co.uk

Post: Grantham Journal, St Peter’s House, St Peter’s Hill, Grantham, NG31 6QB