Boss of new drug and alcohol treatment services to tackle drug-related deaths

PUBLISHED: 14:42 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:44 05 April 2018

File photo of drugs and drug-taking equipment. Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

File photo of drugs and drug-taking equipment. Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

The boss of the new drug and alcohol treatment provision in Norfolk has vowed to tackle drug-related deaths in the county as her charity launched its services.

Change, Grow, Live director Vicki Markiewicz. Photo: CGLChange, Grow, Live director Vicki Markiewicz. Photo: CGL

The boss of the new drug and alcohol treatment provision in Norfolk has vowed to tackle drug-related deaths in the county as her charity launched its services.

Change, Grow, Live (CGL) took over the contract this month, and the charity’s director Vicki Markiewicz said they would move towards community care and a “behavioural change service” in the coming months.

Previously, services were provided by the Norfolk Recovery Partnership (NRP) - a partnership between Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, the Matthew Project and The Forward Trust - but it was announced in November that CGL would take over from April.

Documents published on the tender said the new contract, which will last five years and is worth £32.5m, said there would be a move towards prevention and early intervention.

File photo of Ecstasy tablets. Photo: PAFile photo of Ecstasy tablets. Photo: PA

Ms Markiewicz said: “We’re going to operate much more of a community delivery model which will allow people to access services outside of the urban areas.”

She said this meant not only would those living in rural areas be reached more easily, but that those who might not consider themselves in need of help might be more forthcoming.

“It’s to draw in people who are using a different type of drugs or drinking at a high level,” she said. “For example, people who have been smoking cannabis for 20 years might not want to walk into a service full of opiate users.”

She said they had also been in touch with other agencies, such as Age UK, to reach out to elderly people who may not realise they need help with their drinking.

They would also be working closely with GPs and the county’s hospitals, as well as those who support the homeless.

And she vowed to tackle drug-related deaths in the county.

She said: “We know from commissioners and the statistics out there that the drug-related death numbers really need to come down in Norfolk.”

The pledge came as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released data on Wednesday showing that five of the 10 towns and cities with the highest rate of heroin and/or morphine-misuse deaths are coastal holiday resorts.

Although Norfolk escaped the top 10, the body found that heroin is the drug used by the so-called ‘Trainspotting generation’, which became addicted to heroin in the 1980s and 1990s.

This generation has been cited as one of the reasons for the increase in death rates from misuse of opiates, which rose steadily nationally from 1993 to 1996 then plateaued at around 80pc of all opiate deaths through to 2016.

Analysts believe this generation may also explain why the highest rate of death from drugs misuse in 2016 was among the 40 to 49-year-olds, overtaking those aged 30 to 39.

Meanwhile, Public Health England has suggested a link between areas of higher deprivation and drugs misuse.

Their report, Preventing Drugs Misuse Deaths, said: “Social factors, including housing, employment and deprivation, are associated with substance misuse and these social factors moderate drug treatment outcomes.”

Ms Markiewicz was also keen to stop service users contracting hepatitis C by using dried blood spot testing and discouraging the sharing of needles.

She said: “Our strategy is to eradicate hepatitis C amongst our service users.”

Although only a few days in, she said the service launch had got off to a “positive” start, however the charity did face criticism last week over staffing levels.

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk claimed many experienced staff chose not to transfer to the new service.

But Ms Markiewicz said the just under 100 staff on board “met the needs of Norfolk”.

She said: “What we’re trying to do in the community does require a different skill mix. There are a lot of people to support across Norfolk and what I said to staff was down the line if we feel we need more that’s something we can look at.”

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