Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2019 - Page 8

KEEP ON MOVING: ThE 12Th DDN cONfErENcE Session 1 ‘I try so hard to get service users involved, but no one ever wants to know. So how do I get them involved?’ PHE was also providing guidance on the wider provision of naloxone, including mapping Gary, delegate the adequate provision of nasal naloxone. Her organisation had issued guidance outlining four different levels of service user involvement for commissioners and providers, she said – involvement in people’s own care and treatment plans, involvement in strategic development and commissioning, developing peer mentoring and support, and delivering user-led, recovery-focused services. Injecting drug use continued to be the highest risk factor for hepatitis C, she stated, and to meet the NHS’ 2025 eradication target would need local authorities, drug services and the NHS to all work together. ‘Treatment needs to be available where people who use drugs are,’ she said, and drug services should be using peer support to encourage and promote testing and treatment. PHE would be pressing the government’s recently launched Carol Black review into drugs and violence (see news, page 5 ) to look at how the drug treatment sector is able to meet this range of challenges, she said, while the sector also needed to make the most of the opportunities presented by the increasing focus on mental health in the NHS. ‘Your voice is really important,’ she told delegates, ‘and it’s important that your voice is heard and helps to shape policy and practice in the future. It’s important at a local level and it’s important at a national level that we have opportunities to listen to you and learn from you. I can only half do my job if I’m not being influenced by what are your real experiences.’ T he role of people who use drugs was back at the heart of harm reduction, drug user advocate and activist Mat Southwell told the conference. ‘I don’t think there’s been a space to discuss harm reduction in the UK, and I’m disgusted that it’s taken an HIV outbreak in Glasgow to bring the focus back.’ Post-Brexit, drug-related deaths in Europe were predicted to fall by 25 per cent ‘simply because we’re leaving’, he said. ‘There are older drug users in the UK, yes, but that’s also the case across Europe. We’ve got back to where we used to be, with people going to treatment as a last resort because of the pressure to come off drugs. Methadone is not something people should be pushed off, unless they’re ready to change.’ The government was putting ideology and scapegoating above science and human rights, he said. ‘This ridiculous review looking at violence and drugs will not be looking at prohibition – it’s like having a review of obesity and not looking at sugar. When you start undermining people’s rights the logical end point is drug users being murdered, as they are in places like the Philippines.’ Service user activism could have huge impact, he said, with the ‘White Noise’ movement in Georgia seeing 10,000 people marching against the country’s harsh police crackdown on drug users. INPUD was engaging the UN, EuroNPUD was 8 | drinkanddrugsnews | March 2019 engaging the EU and country drug user groups were engaging national governments, he said, with examples of peer-led harm reduction worldwide including needle patrols, secondary NSP programmes, peer education and peer-led distribution of naloxone. ‘When you bias everything around service user involvement towards recovery then you lose all of this. We need to get angry, and I’m unapologetic about standing up here being pissed off.’ The disproportionate costs of prohibition ‘far outweigh any benefits that people claim’, he said. ‘You have a responsibility when you work with a drug user network that, as well as power, we have vulnerabilities,’ he said. ‘When you engage us we can interact with all those people who don’t use treatment. Treatment is part of the care pathway, but it’s not the whole care pathway. ‘It’s time to reorganise,’ he told the conference. ‘ We want to help our peers. Stop framing us as a problem. Let’s be part of the solution.’ ‘Treatment is part of the care pathway, but it’s not the whole care pathway... it’s time to reorganise. we want to help our peers. stop framing us as a problem. Let’s be part of the solution.’ MAT souThweLL www.drinkanddrugsnews.com