(Since posting the article below, I have received a very positive response from NHS Sussex and abstinence-based services, including BHT’s Detox Support and Recovery Projects, are to be included on the various websites. This response is much appreciated).
For the last few weeks I have been running a small campaign to try to get abstinence-based services for those with alcohol and drug problems included on websites run by the City Council and NHS Sussex. It has seemed to me to be quite extraordinary that, while harm minimisation services appear prominently, abstinence-based services were ignored.
Clients in BHT’s Recovery Project have consistently said to me that they were either not told about BHT’s abstinence-based services or, in some cases, actively discouraged from seeking abstinence itself.
At recent events on drugs organised by Caroline Lucas MP and Mike Weatherley MP, I asked whether the lack of promotion of abstinence and abstinence-based services was policy or cultural. The only responses I got were from someone who said I was “paranoid” and another who said that I liked to make criticisms of other agencies. Neither is true, certainly not the latter.
As for paranoia, I had a look at the various websites and other publications designed to help those in Brighton and Hove with alcohol and drug problems. BHT’s abstinence-based services, the Detox Support Project and the Recovery Project, were absent in all but one of these sites.
A booklet ‘What next? Your guide to drug treatment and recovery pathways in Brighton and Hove’ lists over 40 services, from harm minimisation services and prescribing services through to where you can get help getting a crisis loan. It includes some BHT services (such as Threshold, our Housing Advice Centre and First Base Day Centre) but it again fails to mention abstinence-based services including the Detox Support Project and the Recovery Project).
No one has yet answered whether the decision (it has to be conscious since it happens so consistently) is cultural or policy. If the former, something needs to be done since people in Brighton and Hove are being denied choice. If policy, who has made this decision and why?
In the last few days the City Council has amended some of its web pages to include the missing services and approach. I am grateful for this but wonder why on the main City Council website these services are posted under ‘Who else can help’ section rather than the main ‘Where to find help locally’ section.
I will continue to make a nuisance of myself until there is a shift in culture or a change in policy!