A PIONEERING approach to substance misuse has seen Dumfries and Galloway’s Specialist Drug and Alcohol Service handed a top national award.
The honour presented at the Scottish Healthcare Awards 2023 is further recognition of the advances the service has made in providing people who use drugs with safer alternatives.
Hailing the presentation of the Management of Substance Dependency award,
Service Manager Jackie Aindow said: “This award is recognition of the vision, efforts, ambitions, work and resolve actioned by our staff each day every single day.
“I am so proud that staff and the service have received the recognition they deserve for all of their hard work.”
Staff attended a glittering ceremony at the Glasgow Marriott Hotel, where
Dr Pedro Larisma and Senior Clinical Pharmacist in Substance Misuse Samantha Nairn accepted the award on behalf of the service.
Jackie said: “There is no doubt that the last couple of years have been challenging for the service, with a lot of changes around staffing and the new initiatives and developments we have had to make in the way we work.
“Each and every member of staff within the service has played an important part in achieving this award.”
In May 2021, the Scottish Government issued new standards in order to try and reduce the incidence of drug related death and harm within Scotland.
The Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) standards aim to improve access, choice and care for people who experience drug problems across Scotland.
Jackie explained: “Since the introduction of new standards, we have moved much more to a recovery oriented, person-centered model rather than what was previously a largely medical model of care, treatment and support.
“Some of the changes that had to be made to achieve the standards required a fairly rapid introduction. However, the service adapted well to these and is currently one of the highest achieving services in the whole of Scotland.”
One very notable area of success for the Dumfries and Galloway service is in the use of Buvidal™ – which is a medication used to treat dependence on opioid (narcotic) drugs such as heroin or morphine.
An advantage of the medication is that it is injected under the skin and that it is long-lasting. As a result, it does not need to be taken daily – instead it is provided weekly or monthly.
This means that those people using this medication are supported to live more settled lives, with less disruption to responsibilities like work or important social connections.
A national report on the implementation of medication assisted treatment (MAT) standards for 2022/23 was published in June 2023, and showed Dumfries and Galloway making good progress in the aim to achieve ten national goals.
Jackie said: “The service has led nationally within the UK on the use of Buvidal, which is a long-acting injectable form of buprenorphine.
“This has helped us in our aim to reduce drug related harm and death and has also enabled our service to provide support and advice and share our guidance documents and protocols to other services throughout the UK.”
Further information on other websites and local drug and alcohol services that can help, along with other more detailed guidance, can be found at www.stopdgdrugdeaths.co.uk