Minister Frank Feighan met with staff of Galway Simon Community recently to learn about the impact of a project working with people who have addictions to “Benzos”. The Community Detox Project established in 2019 has worked with 40 people to help them to reduce their drug use safely. He also met with GPs, and HSE staff who explained the difference this project had made to people seeking help.
Where people are homeless and develop addictions it can be very hard to stop or to stabilize without support. Karen Golden CEO told the Minister that people often would want to stop but in order to get help, get a bed in a treatment centre, they would have to wait, until a bed became available.
There is a significant problem of Benzodiazepiene abuse, they are very addictive, and people can become highly dependent. There are risks with detoxing and there needs to be medical oversight. Where a dependency has developed, it is not safe to stop suddenly. To provide such oversight to people in the community or in homeless services, GPs need the assurance that patients have support.
Galway Simon has set up a project, with funding from the HSE, where people have very focused support from a key worker, who will work along with the Client and GP, and take time to help them to prepare for a detox. The key worker will also provide support with day to day difficulties that might set them back. The people who have been referred to the project get a chance to reflect on whether they are ready to reduce their drug intake and work towards stopping. Once a person is ready, the key worker acts like a coach, helping the person to set goals and meet them. The keyworker is available between GP appointments, to help the person within any practical difficulties that may set them back.
“Drugs, alcohol and substance misuse are critical problems contributing to and exacerbating homelessness, we have to have ways to help people get out of the spiral of addiction and we have to be able to respond quickly when people seek help, not put them on waiting lists”, Karen Golden said.
The collaboration between clients with drug dependency, their Doctors and the Key Workers in this Service has really made a difference.
Providing a safe medical detox where people have time and the necessary support to stabilize and recover in the community has been a very welcome development in Galway City.
Wednesday 22nd September 2021