DDN July_Aug_2022 DDN July/August 2022 | Page 16

had now been funded following local police approval . ‘ We need this work to show there ’ s evidence that providing crack pipes reduces health harms ,’ with the ultimate aim of allowing distribution through treatment services .
NEW RESOURCE A new national resource for opioid agonist treatment ( OAT ) had been adapted for Scotland based on peer work by EuroNPUD , said Duncan Hill of the Scottish Drug Related Death Task Force . The aim was to have a leaflet to enable informed decision making and explain the treatment on offer , and that people could then share with their peers . ‘ When we were looking at what addiction services and organisations had , no one had a single quick leaflet . There were lots of leaflets available , all on individual treatments – some were very technical , some were very simple , but there was nothing that combined everything . We wanted to give information to patients so they were able to go away and think about what they wanted to be treated with .’
Some of the terminology and content of the EuroNPUD leaflet – which was written by peers for peers – was then adapted for a Scottish readership . ‘ The process of tailoring secures by-in for other partners ,’ added Southwell . ‘ There ’ s no point in producing a leaflet that ’ s just recognised by drug users . If clients are going back to their services and saying “ these are my rights ”, that needs to have some
type of recognition among partners .’
THE RIGHT DOSE SODA was another joint project on OAT developed by EuroNPUD , as around half of the people on OAT were under-dosed . This not only reduced the impact and quality of treatment , but it meant that people would then pass on negative messages about their treatment . The aim of SODA was to enable people to have conversations around getting their doses right , said Adam Winstock . ‘ Getting treatment to work is actually really simple . It ’ s about just getting people on the right dose , and allowing them some control over their treatment .’
Many people who thought they were on the right dose would report feeling ‘ yawny and achy ’, he said . ‘ So many people think pre-dose withdrawal is part of being on treatment , and it ’ s not – it ’ s because you ’ re under-dosed . And so many people think opiate substitution treatment doesn ’ t work , because they ’ ve never stopped using on it .’ SODA was developed to not only give patients control and understanding , but also to inform clinical staff about how they needed to pay more attention to what people wanted , he pointed out . ‘ I want patients and treatment providers to have honest conversations .’
THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD ‘ I ’ ve got the best job in the world ,’ Paul Huggett , the Hepatitis C Trust ’ s peer coordinator for
‘ I ’ ve got the best job in the world ... I get to tell people like me that they ’ ve cleared hep C ...’
Leicester and Northampton , told the session . ‘ I get to tell people like me that they ’ ve cleared hep C .’ The peers ’ role was to engage , test , treat and support the way to cure , and having lived experience meant they fully understood the support that people needed . ‘ It ’ s pointless identifying positives if you can ’ t get them through to cure .’
He had 20 years ’ experience of injecting drug use ‘ and all that comes with it ’, including a 13-year jail sentence , he said . ‘ I ’ m truly grateful to the Hep C Trust for showing faith in me , because not a lot of people show faith in people like me .’
Hepatitis C was a killer disease , and although the previous treatment was ‘ brutal ’ what was available now had no side effects whatsoever . ‘ I got cured , and that made the impossible possible . It made being stable on a script seem doable , and even sobriety seemed achievable .’ Treatment was the catalyst for him to start to get well , he said . ‘ This stuff is gold for drug workers .’
His team consisted of full-time lived experience staff , alongside six
volunteers , with most volunteers going on to full-time employment . The majority wanted to work in drug services because they felt comfortable and could put their experience to good use – ‘ so at the trust we try to upskill them . I ’ m gutted when I lose them , but there ’ s a lot of pride there as well .’
The team worked with rough sleepers , distributing phones and three months ’ worth of credit to carry out welfare checks while people were on treatment , as well as picking people up for appointments and reminding them to take their tablets . They also shared their stories at rehabs and drug services . ‘ They go from being scared to even talk in groups to public speaking – it ’ s massive .’
TEST , TEST , TEST The peers were also responsible for most of the testing , he added . ‘ Having a test is win-win . If it ’ s negative it ’ s a win , if it ’ s positive you just take a few tablets and carry on with your life . So if you ’ re a drug service , test , test , test . But test the right people . I know people who ’ ve done 200 tests and found none . If I do 200 tests I ’ m finding 50 , because I ’ m target-testing the right people .’
Last year his peer team in Leicester had engaged more than 2,300 clients , trained more than 900 staff , and tested almost 1,100 people . ‘ We found 261 positives , and over 200 of them have already started treatment . So you can ’ t tell me lived experience peer programmes don ’ t work .’ DDN