Two sides of addiction treatment

By Lunar Loops · Jun 10, 2006 ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    This from BBC news website ( :

    Two sides of addiction treatment

    By Eleanor Williams
    BBC News, Southampton

    _41741012_bourneroad203.jpg The Bourne Road centre is closing on 30 June, 2006

    Alcohol and drug addiction is a problem in most cities and a shortage of government-funded residential treatment centres makes it a difficult one to tackle.
    For Southampton, the problem could soon get worse when the city centre's last purpose-built unit of its kind shuts its doors at the end of June.
    The Bourne Road service has five beds for drug and alcohol detoxification patients and ten aftercare beds.
    People with drug and alcohol addictions have been referred there since 1989, with their treatment funded by local drug action teams, PCTs and social services.
    Once at Bourne Road they are offered a seven to 14-day detoxification programme followed by six weeks of aftercare.
    Still, this can only cater for a very small number of addicts who are in need of treatment.
    Simon Mantle, chief executive of Two Saints Housing Association, which runs the service, told the BBC News website that there is a long waiting list of people hoping to get a place on the programme.
    But since 2002, the association has been facing a loss of £344,000, and a decision to close the service was made last month.
    Private treatment
    Mr Mantle said: "It's very regrettable but in the end it's a business decision. It wasn't sustainable in the long run."
    He said the only option for people in the city will now be to travel to the New Forest, Wiltshire or Portsmouth, to go into hospital or receive support to battle their addiction at home.
    For those people who can afford to pay for addiction treatment, or who have private health insurance, there are other options available.
    The Priory Hospital in Marchwood, near Southampton, is more often associated with its celebrity clientele than its addiction treatment programme.

    _41741008_priory203.jpg The addiction treatment programme at the Priory lasts for 12 months

    Dr Simon Kelly, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory, said celebrities only make up about 1% of the patients, who fund the treatment - which starts at £105 for an hour - themselves or through private medical insurance.
    The private clinic offers a substantial 28-day in-patient programme, which comes with up to 12 months aftercare and a price tag on £15,232.
    The success rate on the Priory programme is claimed to be about 70%. "Success" is judged to be the number of patients still abstinent after one year, according to Dr Kelly.
    "If you get to one year, you're likely to get to five years," he explained.
    Mental breakdown
    Mike, a 50-year-old IT manager, came to the Priory nine and a half months ago.
    He had spent 30 years denying he was an alcoholic, but when he had a mental breakdown and shut himself inside his hotel room during a business trip he knew he had to seek help.
    "I didn't think I was an alcoholic because I wasn't drinking every day. I didn't think I had a problem but I was a binge drinker," he said.
    "If I picked up a glass of wine I didn't know if it was going to be three glasses or three bottles.
    "I didn't want to come here. I hated it here and didn't want to stay - I've never been so miserable. But after a few days something changed."
    Mike - not his real name - realised going through with the programme was his only real choice.
    "Then, I didn't want to leave because I felt safe," he said.
    "If I hadn't [gone to the Priory] it would have just got worse. I most certainly wouldn't be back at work."
    Vital lifeline
    Mike has two broken marriages behind him because of his addiction, but at last, he says he is starting to enjoy life again after spending 30 years of it "drunk, in fear and emotional turmoil".
    Before being admitted to the Priory he had counselling and had gone to alcoholism meetings but that never worked on its own. He says it was only the residential detoxification option that saved him.
    "I don't think there is enough [help for addicts] and I think the problem is just going to get worse." And with the closure of a unit that has been a vital lifeline to those addicts who cannot afford private treatment, it seems the future looks uncertain for those most in need. Mr Mantle said: "Sadly, there are no plans in the foreseeable future for something like this in the city."

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