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Community / New service to launch for people affected by alcohol or drug misuse

A NEW service is set to be launched in Shetland next year offering people affected by alcohol or drug misuse a wider range of support – with a particular focus on the “person in the whole” rather than just the substance use.

Alcohol and drug development officer Wendy McConnachie.

A project manager is currently being sought for the new service, which will be called the Recovery Hub and Community Network.

The manager will work alongside the existing multi-agency Shetland Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (SADP) and the aim of the service is to enable people to “maximise their quality of life, independence and opportunities by developing and coordinating local support, information, systems and resources”.

The service is being funded by money from an additional £20 million the Scottish Government has pledged to reduce alcohol and drug-related harm across the country.

NHS Shetland alcohol and drugs development officer Wendy McConnachie, who is involved in the SADP, said the new service stemmed from a needs assessment undertaken by the partnership last year.

“One of the gaps identified was a gap in provision around the non-treatment based support,” she explained.

“So taking into account a lot of the social factors of recovery, including drop-in services for people who are experiencing problems due to alcohol or drugs, and support for those people’s families.

“The idea is that the recovery hub will provide access to a range of different support and services under one roof, with a focus on more than just the substance use.

“So you’re taking into account the person in the whole. Looking at their physical health, meaningful use of their time, their community, their emotional health, money, housing, all that kind of thing. You’re working on all those elements to support their recovery, in their own way.”

The job profile for the project manager says that a key part of the post will be increasing the number of people who at present do not access interventions from treatment services, and “supporting them to engage in a positive behaviour change, engage in opportunities that will increase wellbeing, resilience and the ability to self-care”.

Currently people affected by alcohol or drugs would be directed to NHS Shetland’s substance misuse recovery service.

The new service, however, will offer a wider range of support outside of the NHS.

It comes after the long-running Community Alcohol and Drugs Support Service closed in 2016 following budget cuts, with people re-directed to the health board’s substance misuse recovery service.

“It’s giving people another way of engaging with services – people who perhaps don’t want to go to their GP or don’t want to the substance misuse recovery service,” McConnachie said.

“I think that we knew that there were gaps there anyway, but having done the needs assessment and that gap’s been identified, we knew then that this is what we needed to do with this extra funding.

“There’s a lot more to somebody’s recovery than simply stopping using a substance, because these things never happen in isolation.”

The closing date for the project manager vacancy, meanwhile, is 1 December.