Page 13 - DDN 1403 web

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March 2014 |
| 13
Perspectives session
what your recovery journey is you have an invitation – you belong.’
‘I’m a former chemist robber, which is not a good lifestyle choice,’ outreach worker
for the Hepatitis C Trust,
Jim Conneely
, January, page 6) told the conference. ‘My
recovery journey was a bit reluctant, but once I got into it I really thrived on it.’
He’d had a supportive GP who genuinely wanted to help – ‘a miracle’ – he told
delegates, only to then be diagnosed with hepatitis C and told there was ‘nothing’
that could be done. ‘There was no internet then, so I asked around,’ he said. ‘There
was no information, no leaflets, but I heard about a support group and then found
out about this new drug, interferon. I had to fight to get that – a pretty crappy drug
– and I eventually got clear of the virus. I feel great and really feel that I’ve got my
life back. Some of that’s down to my recovery but it’s also about my physical health.’
As he travelled around the country in the Hepatitis C Trust’s testing van he found
that ‘an awful lot of people think they’ve got it – why?’ he said. ‘But if you’re
injecting you need a test, and there is treatment’ – with new breakthroughs all the
time, he stressed.
The Hepatitis C Trust was one of the original service user groups, he said. ‘We’re
a group of patients who got together because there was no information about
hepatitis C. You need the facts, but we’re out there.’ Many people living with the
virus were ‘in a daze’, he said, doing nothing about it. ‘I just want to raise awareness
– let’s stop the stigma.’
The next perspective came from drug outreach worker
Philippe Bonnet
, making the
case for a drug consumption room in Birmingham (
, October 2013, page 16) –
a campaign that now had the backing of hundreds of GPs and the local police and
crime commissioner. Problems related to street injecting included increased rates of
blood-borne virus transmission, abscesses, femoral injecting, needle litter and
overdose deaths, he said, while the solution was a ‘simple, effective, pragmatic and
humanistic approach’ that was evidence-based. ‘We don’t want a multi-million
pound set up, just a couple of portakabins.’
Switzerland had opened the first DCR in 1986, he told the session, and there
were now almost 100 worldwide, mainly in Europe. ‘They needn’t be controversial
and they’re not a vote loser,’ he said, and they also led to an increase in access to
treatment and wraparound services. ‘And nobody has ever died of an overdose in a
DCR. Ever.’
The final perspective was from
Lester Morse
of East Coast Recovery, who described
how his recovery journey had led to him to establishing facilities of his own. From
helping out at a soup kitchen he’d moved on to setting up houses for people
struggling with addiction, often in the face of opposition from the local authority.
‘I’m a service user – I’ve been at the frontline of addiction – and my intention
was just to help people. We can talk about addiction, but we need to get you sorted
out with the rest of your life. Recovery is the foundation, and the important bit that
gets looked over is that MPs and doctors don’t understand the problem.’
His organisation tried to ‘centre everything around the brain’, he told delegates.
‘To have a healthy brain you need a healthy environment, and that’s what we try to
create in our treatment centres. We have a coffee shop, we do wood chopping, and
people can train for City and Guilds to get good qualifications. It’s based on people
helping each other and keeping busy. It’s a real community project.’
‘My recovery
journey was a
bit reluctant,
but once I got
into it I really
‘We’re a grass-
roots organisa-
tion and
service-user led
to the bone.’