Drug help at hand

Joondalup Times - - FRONT PAGE - Mark Don­ald­son

DOC­TORS and nurses at Joon­dalup Health Cam­pus (JHC) know the scourge of drug ad­dic­tion in the north­ern sub­urbs bet­ter than most.

Last year there were nearly 20 re­fer­rals per week from the hos­pi­tal to an in-house drug ad­dic­tion ser­vice.

Re­cent Depart­ment of Health data showed the Joon­dalup emer­gency depart­ment treated about two crys­tal metham­phetamine-af­fected pa­tients a day.

Such fig­ures align with na­tional waste­water study find­ings this month which in­di­cated Perth res­i­dents were sec­ond only to Ade­laide as the heav­i­est users of metham­phetamine. The study also found ec­stasy and co­caine use in the city had in­creased.

The use of il­licit sub­stances has meant ad­dic­tion ser­vices are un­der im­mense pres­sure.

But help is at hand in the north­ern sub­urbs. Ac­cord­ing to the Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion, sub­stance abuse treat­ment in Perth’s north is among the best in WA.

The com­mis­sion re­cently ac­knowl­edged a ground­break­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween JHC and two com­mu­nity health ser­vices as the most ef­fec­tive part­ner­ship in the state for drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion ther­apy.

The hos­pi­tal has part­nered with the North Metro Com­mu­nity Al­co­hol and Drug Ser­vice (NMCADS) and Joon­dalup Com­mu­nity Men­tal Health to of­fer a more rounded ap­proach to treat­ment.

Se­nior doc­tor Richard O’Re­gan, who is as­so­ci­ated with the NMCADS, hoped recog­ni­tion from the com­mis­sion would shore up sup­port for the ini­tia­tive.

“This award recog­nises a project that has never oc­curred in WA be­fore. It’s like open­ing a door for these peo­ple to get the longer term help they need,” he said.

JHC men­tal health ser­vices man­ager Linda Locke said the col­lab­o­ra­tion meant coun­selling and med­i­cal help con­tin­ued for pa­tients once they left hos­pi­tal.

The ser­vices can be ac­cessed only upon re­fer­ral from the hos­pi­tal.

One part of the pro­gram is an “in­reach” ser­vice, which had nearly 1000 re­fer­rals – just un­der a 20 a week – to it last year.

The ser­vice com­prises a clin­i­cal nurse and an ad­dic­tion medicine con­sul­tant, both from NMCADS.

Clin­i­cal nurse spe­cial­ist Greg Gor­don, who has been a part of the project since its in­cep­tion, ex­plained how it in­te­grated with hos­pi­tal pro­ce­dure.

“When a nurse, doc­tor – or any­one else car­ing for a pa­tient – iden­ti­fies that the pa­tient may have a drug or al­co­hol is­sue, they now ask if they would like to have con­tact with the drug and al­co­hol ‘in­reach’ team, who can pro­vide them with an as­sess­ment, ad­vice on treat­ment and sup­port op­tions,” he said.

The win­ners of the 2018 Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion’s Al­co­hol & Other Drugs Ex­cel­lence Awards.

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