15 September 2016

Blackpool Mental Health Issues and the Need its Drug Addiction

No matter where you live in the UK, drug addiction is an ever-present problem, but residents of Blackpool were horrified to discover that their town has been named as the ‘drugs death capital of England and Wales’.

What was once one of the UK’s most popular seaside resorts has now become synonymous with drug addiction and drug-related deaths. One former addict believes that to fix the town’s problems with addiction more needs to be done to tackle the issue of mental health.

Mental Health Crisis

Dean Kirton is a hostel manager and former drug addict, and he believes that Blackpool’s drugs problem would be fixed if the mental health issues were addressed. He said, “Around three-quarters of our residents have, or have had substance misuse problems, but the vast majority of those also have mental health problems. What they need are good mental health services and support to deal with their problems.”

He went on to say that many of the town’s drug addicts are unable to access addiction services because there are no beds. He said, “Those people just go out and self-medicate with illegal drugs. The police and ambulance services in this town are fantastic, but they’re at breaking point too, and sometimes they’re not getting to people quick enough to save them. We have to literally save lives in our hostels sometimes.”

Importance of Support for Drug Addiction

Belina is a resident of The Ashley Foundation hostel where Kirton works, and she has been in recovery from a heroin addiction for a year. She said, “When you get the right support, it makes you want to live.”

Sadly, many people struggling with drug addiction never get the help they need. A report on the Blackpool Gazette website stated that an average of 19 people per 100,000 population in the town died as a direct result of drug abuse between 2013 and 2015. The actual number of individuals who died was seventy-six, and these deaths were linked to both illegal and prescription drug abuse.

Support officer from The Ashley Foundation, Debbie Parr, said, “These figures are obviously devastating to read; so many lives lost and families affected due to drugs, but they only make services like ours more determined to do the absolute best by people in need. Blackpool has a huge and very vibrant recovery community which contributes so much to the town. They should so that people can recover from drug addiction.”

Overcoming Addiction

It is never easy to overcome a drug addiction or, indeed, any type of addiction, but the hardest part is usually admitting that the problem exists in the first place. Many of those with addiction are unable or unwilling to face up to their situations and would rather deny their addiction so as not to have to deal with it.

This is something that we come across all the time, and many family members struggle with the fact that they cannot get their addicted loved one to face the truth of their situation. However, once the affected individuals do finally recognise that they need help, there are many options available in terms of overcoming addiction.

While quitting drugs by oneself is possible, it is certainly rare for this method to be successful, at least in the long-term. Drug addiction can be so deep-rooted that many addicts will struggle to cope without drugs going forward, even if they do manage to get clean on their own. Without help and support, they will always be tempted to return to drugs when things get rough.

Detox and Rehabilitation

The first step on the road to recovery from a drug addiction is detoxification. This process is all about quitting drugs and waiting for all traces of the substance(s) in question to leave the system. It is important to remember, however, that detoxification and rehabilitation are two entirely different things.

While getting clean is the first step, staying clean is the more important one. It is crucial to learn how to stay away from drugs and to replace maladaptive behaviours with more positive methods for dealing with various life situations.

Treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, individual counselling, and group therapy sessions can help when it comes to identifying the cause of the addiction and helping the patient to learn how to return to independent sober living.

Inpatient Treatment

For those who want to overcome a drug addiction, the option to recover in an outpatient setting may be preferable. This is because it provides the patient with a completely focused and intensive approach to recovering from addiction without having to worry about distractions from the outside world.

Many experts believe that inpatient treatment offers recovering addicts the best chance for a successful long-term recovery. With the support of professional counsellors, therapists, medical professionals and support staff, those who want to overcome a drug addiction will have a much greater chance of a long and healthy sober life.

Source: ‘Fix mental health problem to solve resort’s drug crisis’, ex-addict says (The Gazette)

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