March 2017 DDN March 2017 DDN Magazine | Page 11

‘ No one even bothered to report them missing .’

first person

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One life , but many varied components to recovery as Dr Gordon Morse reflects
‘ No one even bothered to report them missing .’
John and Louise met under a railway arch in London ; they shared an old mattress and slept under cardboard boxes . They had both run away from very abusive families – John from the West Country , Louise from Yorkshire . They left their homes when they were only just teenagers , completely under the radar of social services . No one noticed they had left , no one even bothered to report them missing . John hadn ’ t been to school for years and was unable to read or write .
By the time that they met under that railway arch they were in their late teens , both with injecting heroin habits . Their relation - ship was more about self-preservation than anything else , and John started stealing more so that Louise wouldn ’ t have to continue to sell herself .
After another year or two , they decided to move back to Somerset where John had friends . It was there , after Louise had been discharged following an emergency admission with another accidental overdose , that I met them , about eight years ago . I got them both titrated up to a proper dose of methadone and allocated them the support of a keyworker . Without the daily demands of miserable withdrawal symptoms , obtaining funds , using drugs and repeating this several times a day , they were able to take stock of their lives and what they wanted to achieve .
Opportunities are few for those with drug addiction , criminal records and health problems , and progress has not been quick – but it has been remarkable . When I last saw them , they had been housed in a tiny bungalow . John had been to literacy classes and they were both working in the local business – poetically , a cardboard packaging company – where Louise was supervisor . They lead quiet lives – John likes a bit of fishing , Louise likes walking their dog . They are both still on methadone , and when they come home from work each day , they still smoke a bit of heroin to ease old memories .
So Louise and John have come a very long way . OST hasn ’ t achieved this for them – their own resilience and the opportunities offered by my colleagues have done most of that . And if anyone says to me that this is not ‘ recovery ’ because they are still smoking a bit of heroin , all I can say is that this story is the embodiment of what recovery from addiction really means – and I doubt it would have been possible without the stability and safety that OST has given them . Indeed I doubt that they would still even be alive .
Dr Gordon Morse is medical director at Turning Point and a member of SMMGP . First published in the IDHDP newsletter , March 2017 .


The news , and the skews , in the national media
FOR EVERY PIECE OF EVIDENCE showing that youth smoking rates have plummeted since e-cigarettes became popular , there is a blowhard in Philadelphia who insists that vaping is a gateway not only to smoking but to crack cocaine . For every report from the Royal College of Physicians showing that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking , there are a
hundred activist-researchers in San Francisco claiming that vaping makes quitting more difficult … Teenagers experiment , and there is no doubt that they have experimented with e-cigarettes in recent years . The real question is whether they are experi ment ing with vaping instead of smoking or if the former leads to the latter . The drip , drip , drip of junk science from the US would have us believe that vaping is a gateway to smoking , but the empirical data strongly suggest the opposite . Christopher Snowdon , Spectator , 8 February
I MAY NOT BE an enlightened nondrinker but I am an informed one . Sooner or later your vices catch up with you . The big bad medical wolves have
achieved their goal . Dealing with unpleasant feelings seems a lot easier to me than any one of the ten horrible alcohol-related diseases I ’ m destined to get if I go back to drinking . So , I ’ m staying sober . For now . Helen Kirwan-Taylor , Telegraph , 6 February
THOUGH THE PLIGHT OF ALCOHOLICS is awful – the demonisation by society ( medical professionals included ), cuts to mental health services , the ready availability of the drug ... the list goes on – often overlooked are the struggles faced by their children … Local authorities require proper funding to deliver crucial physical and emotional support to children in need . It is only by reaching out to the children of alcoholics that we can hope to definitively break the cycle of addiction that has a stranglehold upon the nation . Annie Beckett , Guardian , 27 February
LOCAL NEWS REPORTS [ in the Philippines ] of politicians found to be directly funded by drug money are so frequent , widespread and often absurd it ’ s hard to know where to begin … So while Duterte ’ s reprimanding of , and promise to cleanse the country of , crooked cops and officials will only add to his popularity among common Filipino people , I wonder if this is a fight he will stand by as firmly as his ferocious war on drugs . The deaths of more than 7,000 addicts and low-level dealers is one thing , but ruffling the feathers and incomes of the country ’ s most powerful ? That ’ s an entirely different battle , and one Duterte should make sure he is squeaky clean for , because the most sinister thing about the Philippines ’ drug problem is not wild addiction statistics , but that there could be proof that corruption is endemic . Joanna Fuertes-Knight , Guardian , 2 February
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March 2017 | drinkanddrugsnews | 11