Phoenix Futures chief exec Karen Biggs addresses the myths and legends of residential rehab and highlights the tangible truth.
Over the course of the last 30 years we have developed a robust set of treatment interventions in the UK, based on evidence, research and practice. Delivered by a range of professionals with expertise from different disciplines, they are summarised in drug misuse clinical guidance and referenced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). It isn’t an exaggeration to say they are the envy of many in our sector across the world.
So why are we finding, at a time when we need to rely on that expertise, on the tangible truth, that we resort to myths and legends – stories once upon a time we believed to be true and were held so vividly in the minds of some, used to explain something beyond their comprehension?
‘There are forces at play to get everyone who has a drug problem into rehab’
As with any good legend this is often a cautionary tale used against arguments to increase access to rehab for anyone. ‘Not everyone can go to rehab’ is the cry – a response no one would disagree with. Many people could benefit from rehab but it is most appropriate for the 3-4% of people with the most complex of issues. In many areas of the UK, rehab just isn’t an option. Funding is never ‘awarded’, pathways don’t exist.
‘Rehab is expensive’
This is possibly the tale that best exposes the discrimination against people in addiction. Residential rehab, or addiction care homes, are – together with inpatient detoxification facilities – the most intensive form of addiction treatment for people with high needs and at high risk.
Look to any other healthcare needs and we have accessibility to healthcare based on the science. NICE exist to make those decisions. And NICE says:
The range of therapeutic approaches employed in residential treatment makes some programmes especially suitable for those with the most complex needs and for those who ‘have not benefited from previous community-based psychosocial treatment’ (NICE 2007). However, there will be some people who desire to go directly into residential treatment and some may benefit from doing so. Such decisions will need to rely on a best clinical judgement.
…but still local officials, civil servants and health care professionals decide that someone with the most complex of needs isn’t worthy of the funding. Why do we allow stories that try to lure us into a reality where cheapness wins?
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