Nurses take lead role in battle to help people with addictions
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.