Stay Clean Charity and Together Gibraltar
Together Gibraltar visited the Stay Clean Charity last week as part of its Community Partnership Programme.
The event was very well attended and served to highlight the need for a call to action particularly in the following key areas; shortage of treatment times, availability in an emergency scenario when users most need support, as well as the lack of beds available in Ocean Views and Bruce’s Farm.
Stay Clean members highlighted the importance and need for having a one stop shop model to deal with the spectrum of assessments and support required, given that it is already hard enough for sufferers to manage the different tasks they need to get through when feeling distressed or suicidal.
Also of note was the lack of continued support after primary treatment in Bruce’s Farm as most recovering addicts reported little or no continuity of care, something which is leaving them lost and confused as to the next steps forward for them. This was felt to be an area of concern as recovering addicts felt they needed ongoing support to help avoid instances of relapse.
The introduction of a juvenile rehabilitation centre is vital to catch sufferers early and to prevent escalation in later years, this type of facility was felt could mean all the difference between falling through the cracks and going down a criminal path or leading a full and productive life where an individual reaches their full potential. It was discussed that having a criminal record for the rest of one’s life for possessing a small amount of drugs also has a majorly adverse impact on the individual, leaving them practically blacklisted for life and unable to reintegrate back into the workplace, something which does nothing to help the sufferer turn a new leaf. Together Gibraltar considers that the possession of small amounts for personal use of some drugs caught on individuals should be decriminalised. Criminalising people caught with small amounts for personal use does nothing for them or the community and therefore Together Gibraltar will be making these proposals in detail in our upcoming electoral manifesto.
It was stressed that pathways are needed that focus on giving all sufferers human dignity as well as having the right to health care as enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights and EU charter of fundamental rights. This also applies to our Prison which leaves much to be desired in terms of better treatment services in situ to help rehabilitate and prepare the sufferer for when they are released back into society.
The lack of arrest referral workers in police custody suites and the law courts is also a concern which does not assist sufferers, but only intimidates and stigmatises them. Our community needs drugs and alcohol workers to assist and support service users via educational channels and harm prevention work.
Stay Clean chairperson Damian Broton said: “Every person affected by substance use needs to be empowered and given the tools to be able to improve their quality of life, happiness and health. Drug demand reduction needs a range of reinforcing measures including prevention, early detection and intervention, risk reduction, comprehensive treatment including rehabilitation, social integration and recovery to break the addiction cycle.”
In developing policy, Together Gibraltar will be looking to implementing the objectives of the EU Drugs strategy 2013-2020, to contribute to a measurable reduction in the use and age onset of problem drug use, drug dependency and drug related health and social risks and harms through an integrated, multi disciplinary and evidence based approach; this will be achieved by promoting and safeguarding coherence between health, social and justice policies.
The problem of dependence on prescription drugs was also an issue that was discussed which needs urgent attention and management by health service professionals.
Together Gibraltar party leader Marlene Hassan Nahon said: “The visit was extremely constructive as we got the opportunity to understand first hand the real issues at stake. It is clear that there is a severe lack of funds and investment going into drugs services in general and this matter was addressed at our meeting. When in Government, Together Gibraltar pledges to prioritise the drugs portfolio and build a proper drug strategy, encouraging active and meaningful participation from civil society, including NGO’s, young people, drug users and clients of drug related services to develop and implement fluid drug policies with its main aim being to rehabilitate and destigmatise the drugs portfolio, ensuring all the support systems are in place to give the recovering addict and their families the best shot at life after drugs as they can have.”