Drugs charity points to care standards danger

Suicide and self-harm among people in
residential drug and alcohol treatment facilities could increase
when the proposed national care standards are introduced in
September, a leading charity has warned.

The European Association for The Treatment of
Addiction (EATA), which delivers more than half of the residential
treatment for drugs services for drug addicts and alcoholics in the
UK, is concerned that some of the proposals are not suitable for
drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres.

Spokesperson for EATA Simon Shepherd said:
“The proposals threaten to increase self-harm and suicide among
young people and undermine treatment effectiveness. People who are
dependent on drugs, for instance, are between 20 and 30 times more
likely to commit suicide than people who are not dependent on

The charity has raised concerns about parts of
the proposals that say all residents should have separate bedrooms,
bathroom facilities that are en-suite or adjacent to residents’
bedrooms and houses should be broken into clusters of eight

Shepherd added: “Having a room mate often
helps to reduce the risk. Furthermore, it is commonly believed that
room sharing enhances the treatment process and helps to improve
residents’ long-term outcomes.”

But a spokesperson for the Department of
Health said that representatives of drug and alcohol treatment
facilities were members of the reference group that advised the
Department of Health during the development of the standards.

Several consultation events aimed at seeking
the views of service users and providers, which “included strong
support for single rooms and equally strong support for shared
provision,” has also been carried out.

The spokesman said that a comprehensive survey
of existing provision showed that units with multiple occupancy
were in the minority.

“We recognise that EATA has considerable
experience in this field and its views will be taken into account
as part of the consultation process.”

Shepherd also said the government’s proposals
undermined attempts to tackle drug and alcohol problems. He said:
“It seems strange at a time when the government is seeking to
tackle drug and alcohol problems that it is inadvertently going to
undermine the availability and effectiveness of residential
treatment – especially given the proven contribution that
residential treatment can make to crime reduction.”

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