Hospital unveils help for addicts


Hospital unveils help for addicts

LEONGATHA Hospital is implementing new strategies to tackle alcohol and drug addiction in South Gippsland with a new withdrawal bed program to kick off next month.

The hospital was successful in securing one of four beds allocated to Gippsland as part of the State Government’s 2015 rollout. Other beds are also located in Sale and Bairnsdale.

Gippsland Southern Health Service chief executive officer Mark Johnson said the withdrawal bed was a new service for  Gippsland.

“It enables people who want to withdraw from a substance to do so closer to come,” he said.

“Gippsland Southern Health Service made a submission to the Department of Health and Human Services to establish the bed in Leongatha.”

Gippsland Southern Health Service alcohol and drug counsellor Bronwyn Beach said the new treatment would help patients with a “tailored approach” to recovery in a safe environment.

“The program is a less clinical look at withdrawal. It offers patients a safe place to get off drugs as one of the early phases of rehabilitation,” she said.

“This program is a form of planned intervention. Patients are admitted voluntarily with an understanding they have a problem with addiction and they wish to change it.”

Patients who require drug and alcohol support are admitted to the Leongatha Hospital withdrawal program for a one week stay. There they are able to connect with other primary health professionals including mental health practitioners, physiotherapists and dieticians.

“They have a chance to connect with other services and link with other people who can support them further down the track when they are getting off drugs,” withdrawal nurse Sue Dutton said.

“We have been doing withdrawals for years and the staff are already skilled in helping patients experiencing drug withdrawal. The difference now is that the withdrawal bed program better prepares the patients and their families where patients are provided with a greater level of relevant support for their recovery.”

The new withdrawal program will join existing drug and alcohol programs at Leongatha Hospital, which already offer care and recovery support for case management, non-residential withdrawal services, and alcohol and drug counselling.

“We do not have the statistics to make a statement about drugs in South Gippsland,” Ms Beach said.

“However, we do know that alcohol has been, and still is, the primary drug of concern. Almost all hospital withdrawals at Gippsland Southern Health Service are alcohol withdrawals.

“People have a particular image of how they imagine addicts to appear, however they can look just like you and I, and very often it is hard to tell they have an addiction.”

The withdrawal bed program will commence intake in June, with patient intake and assessment through ACSO.

“This is just one step in the process of recovery and rehabilitation,” Ms Beach said.

“This process can take weeks, months or even years for an individual to achieve. The withdrawal process is approximately one week.”

According to the Crime Statistics Agency, South Gippsland’s drug and alcohol related arrests fare lower than elsewhere in Gippsland.

In 2015, 38 drug related arrests occurred, equating to 224 arrests per 100,000 people in the population – lower than other areas like Baw Baw where 761.5 people per 100,000 were arrested with drug offences, or Latrobe Valley, where 1157.9 people in 100,000 were arrested for drug offences in 2015.

Bass Coast Shire also experienced higher drug related arrests, with 656 people in 100,000 arrested last year.

Drug related arrests include possession and use of illegal substances, cultivation or trade of drugs and being under the influence of drugs at the time of arrest.

The State Government’s expectation of the program will include the delivery of 48 admissions per year to reduce the number of alcohol and drug related hospital admissions, improve availability of services across the state and increase investment in flexible drug treatment.

“It is not difficult to get people off drugs,” Ms Dutton said.

“Sometimes the drug is not the sole problem in their life. Once they have withdrawn from drugs they must find meaning and value in their lives without drugs.”

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien shared his concerns for the alcohol and drug problem in his electorate when he spoke to the Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley.

“I have again raised the issue of additional drug rehab beds in Gippsland with the Minister for Mental Health. While I understand the minister said more beds will be funded, there has been no commitment that more beds will be available for Gippslanders who have decided they need to stop their ice use and are seeking treatment,” he said.

“I am keen to support anything that tackles the ice scourge, and I am hopeful the Commonwealth will also come to the party with funding and programs to assist us in that fight.”

ACSO, a state wide organisation with services through Bass Coast Health and Latrobe Regional Hospital, offers mental health support and alcohol and drug rehabilitation services, while supporting families and the wider community.

Call ACSO on 1300 022 760 or 5172 2900 for further information about alcohol and drug addiction programs and referrals.

Helping hands: from left, withdrawal nurse Sue Dutton and alcohol and drug counsellor Bronwyn Beach in the new drug and alcohol withdrawal room at Leongatha Hospital which is set to be operational in June.

Helping hands: from left, withdrawal nurse Sue Dutton and alcohol and drug counsellor Bronwyn Beach in the new drug and alcohol withdrawal room at Leongatha Hospital which is set to be operational in June.

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Posted by on May 31 2016. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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