Nurses take lead role in bat­tle to help peo­ple with ad­dic­tions

The Oban Times - - News -

AN IN­NO­VA­TIVE project has put nurses at the fore­front of a fight to tackle ad­dic­tion in Ar­gyll and Bute.

The spe­cial­ist team of nurses is work­ing in part­ner­ship with a num­ber of other ex­perts to com­bat the prob­lem of drugs in the area. In par­tic­u­lar, there is grow­ing con­cern about the preva­lence of so- called party drugs and le­gal highs, which have now been banned.

NHS High­land em­ploys nurses to work in a va­ri­ety of roles, in­clud­ing a new ded­i­cated Ar­gyll and Bute Ad­dic­tion Team (ABAT).

The team cov­ers the whole of Ar­gyll and Bute to help in­di­vid­u­als over­come sub­stance mis­use is­sues.

Team leader Les­lie Mackay said: ‘We work with adults from the age of 16 who are hav­ing prob­lems with sub­stance mis­use. The team con­sists of 17 nurses, four so­cial work­ers, two sup­port work­ers and a con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist work­ing through­out Ar­gyll and Bute.

‘One of our nurses spe­cialises in harm re­duc­tion, and they work along­side the con­sul­tant across the whole patch, whereas the rest of the team work in smaller groups ded­i­cated to each area of Ar­gyll and Bute.

‘In­di­vid­u­als are re­ferred to our ser­vice by their GP, and we con­duct a com­pre­hen­sive as­sess­ment to iden­tify the most ap­pro­pri­ate ser­vice for them to work with. We then tai­lor a re­cov­ery plan spe­cific to them to sup­port them to over­come their ad­dic­tion.’

The team works with clients to help them over­come ad­dic­tion to al­co­hol and drugs. The rise in the use of new psy­choac­tive sub­stances (NPS), or so- called le­gal highs, has pre­sented a new chal­lenge for Les­lie and her team to tackle.

Les­lie ex­plained: ‘ We have a num­ber of ser­vices that we can of­fer peo­ple, in­clud­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port, cop­ing skills and res­i­den­tial re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. When peo­ple are re­ferred to us with drug or al­co­hol ad­dic­tion, we have an es­tab­lished process of detox­i­fi­ca­tion and un­der­stand the signs and symp­toms to look out for.

‘How­ever, the rise in NPS has posed prob­lems for us, as we can never be sure what they have taken or what it con­tains. We know how to work with things like heroin or al­co­hol but we are de­ter­mined to es­tab­lish ways to help peo­ple beat their ad­dic­tion to these so- called le­gal highs.’

Les­lie has worked in her cur­rent role for the past five years and her role cov­ers Oban, Mid-Ar­gyll, Kin­tyre and the is­lands. The ge­og­ra­phy of her patch pre­sents its own chal­lenge but also of­fers Les­lie a chance to build strong work­ing re­la­tion­ships.

She said: ‘It’s no big se­cret that re­mote and ru­ral work­ing can be chal­leng­ing, es­pe­cially in Ar­gyll and Bute.

‘Be­ing so iso­lated from other parts of the coun­try can make part­ner­ship work­ing dif­fi­cult but we al­ways find a way to cope.

‘I have a ded­i­cated, hard­work­ing team who are great. We learn so much from one an­other and we have a pas­sion to help peo­ple. It’s an ab­so­lute priv­i­lege to be a part of a per­son’s re­cov­ery jour­ney and it is ex­tremely sat­is­fy­ing to see some­one turn a cor­ner in re­la­tion to their ad­dic­tion is­sues.

‘Such in­ner strength can be hard to find when some­one is bat­tling ad­dic­tion to al­co­hol, drugs or NPS, and it is very re­ward­ing to know that you played a part in their re­cov­ery.’

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on ABAT, con­tact Les­lie on 01546 605602 or go to www.nhshigh­land.scot.nhs.uk, www.twit­ter. com/nhshigh­land or www. face­book.com/nhshigh­land.

Les­lie Mackay.

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