Big rise in drink and drug addicts in Bracknell ForestBy Becky Barnes
January 10, 2013
The number of drug addicts and alcoholics being referred for help in the borough has reached a record high level.
Referrals to Bracknell Forest Council’s treatment centre New Hope went up by 66 per cent in a year, soaring from 296 in 2011 to 490 in 2012.
Jillian Hunt, drug and alcohol action team (DAAT) manager at New Hope, Market Street, said: “The referral figures are the highest we have ever seen.
“This is a very significant increase and something we have picked up is that it is bucking the trend compared to the rest of the UK.”
The increase has been partly put down to a rise in mephedrone (MCat or meow meow) use in the borough, but also to good promotion of the treatment service.
Jillian said: “We have quite a significant problem with young people using mephedrone and this had an impact on our figures.
“There are similar problems in Wales and Manchester.
“Although there is not one thing we can put a finger on, my feeling is the economic situation must have had an effect. But we don’t have a massive problem if you compare us to our neighbours – our figures are nowhere near Reading and Slough.”
New Hope offers ‘comprehensive’ assessments of drug or alcohol use and looks at the contributory factors rather than the addiction as an isolated issue. People can be referred by their GP, probation officer, police, a family member, the hospital or can self refer.
Mira Haynes, the council’s chief officer for long term conditions, said the figures presented ‘a positive picture’ and had increased because more people were seeking help.
She put this down to work done to raise awareness of support available and said extended opening hours and a change in how support is delivered at New Hope meant more people came in.
She added: “We have also noted a rise in the numbers of people misusing mephedrone. But we are continuing to work with our partners, including the police, to tackle this and to offer support to anyone who needs it.”
The number of referrals which resulted in addicts turning up for assessments at the centre and starting treatment was 246 in 2011 and 321 last year – a 30 per cent increase.
But 70 people made planned exits from treatment between April and November 2012.
Jillian added: “We can’t keep people in treatment forever but we want to get them into recovery and helping them become useful members of society.”
New Hope offers alcohol groups and counselling, plus a structured day programme from 10am to 3pm with the chance to learn life skills such as cooking and budgeting.
Drop-in sessions take place at Units 16/17 Market Street, from 4pm to 7pm on Tuesdays and from 10am to 12.30pm on Fridays.
For further information visit: www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/alcoholdrugsandsubstancemisuse.