Addiction services in Northumberland hailed a success, despite difficulties of covid pandemic

Health chiefs say people are still getting the help they needHealth chiefs say people are still getting the help they need
Health chiefs say people are still getting the help they need
Health bosses say addiction services are still operating successfully in Northumberland, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

Northumberland County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard virtual meetings for the addiction services have been particularly successful.

Chloe Mann, the associate director for access services at the Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear NHS Trust, told the committee: “It has allowed people that would not normally want to socialise or maybe be anxious about being in a group setting the ability to engage and contribute.”

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According to Ms Mann, such meetings have been “absolutely fantastically attended.”

The committee heard how some addiction service users have been allocated mobile phones in order to maintain contact with the service and help professionals review their mental health.

Delivering food parcels to addiction service users was also mentioned as a good way to maintain relationships and monitor progress or problems faced by those with substance abuse problems.

This is in addition to the obvious benefit of improving service users nutritional health.

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The service is planning to expand. Ms Mann said the service “is going to be growing”.

She said: “We are reviewing our pathways, we looking to increase what we provide to those who need our services in Northumberland, particularly in terms of harm reduction.”

The service is set to expand to help those who have had a rehabilitation order imposed on them by the prison services or criminal justice liaison.

The presentation to the committee also stated: “The World Health Organisation and Public Health England both recognise the importance of continuing addiction services during the pandemic.

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“Especially as social isolation may increase the amount of substances of alcohol and individual may be consuming.”

This was mirrored by a study in the peer reviewed medical journal ‘The Lancet’ in August 2020 which said: “A complex interplay of heightened financial difficulties, social isolation, uncertainty about the future, and the redistribution of the health workforce and the disruption to clinical services could contribute to increased alcohol intake and relapse under lockdown conditions, and, subsequently, contribute to further liver-associated complications via direct injury or through late presentations to the appropriate services”.

The NHS urges people with substance abuse problems to get help via their GPs.

If people are not comfortable with that option then they can find a drug treatment service on the Frank website.

You can also reach the Frank helpline at 0300 123 6600

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