A group for families of drug and alcohol abusers has welcomed the offer of a continuation of the community alcohol and drug service through Market House.
A member of the group was speaking after their meeting place at the long-established service in Commercial Street was closed at astonishingly short notice last week.
The woman, who declined to be identified to protect her family’s identity, said that the members of Families Affected by Drugs and Alcohol (known as the Fab Group) were “very pleased” that they could continue to meet and hoped that a similar level of service would continue for drug users and their families alike.
But she also questioned the speed and secrecy with which the Community Alcohol and Drugs Services Shetland had been closed.
Representatives of both CADSS and NHS Shetland had met with the Fab group two days before the Commercial Street office of CADSS closed its doors last Thursday but had been unable to get confirmation of the fate of the service.
CADSS closed after it considered funding of £65,000 offered by the Integration Joint Board to cover the employment of one full-time and one part-time worker to be insufficient. This was a reduction from £165,000 the service had last year and reflects a reduction in the level of service that CADSS provided under a restructured service.
Joint board chief officer Simon Bokor-Ingram said yesterday that the board was continuing to put £700,000 into drug and alcohol services in Shetland and he was confident the redesign would see money spent as efficiently as possible on the recovery of abusers.
The amount coming from the Scottish government had reduced but the final budget settlement would only be known at the end of May.
“I want to reassure people that what we have in place is a robust service. I would emphasise that the whole thrust has been to ensure that we can offer a really good recovery service,” said Mr Bokor-Ingram.
“It is disappointing that we do not have CADSS any more but everything is in place [to replace it] and we are going to add more capacity to our young person’s service.”
He said that a post had very recently been set up in the children’s mental health service that would cover the young person’s service provided by CADSS and this would be strengthened by an additional post that will be filled shortly and combine schools education.
An interim arrangement is in place for a Monday morning drop in service at the Salvation Army Hall at Grantfield which allows people who think they may have a problem to seek advice in an informal setting from a nurse or other drug worker. The first session had been on Monday and it will continue next week.
Needle exchanges are also continuing to operate from town pharmacies to replace the service that was available at CADSS.
Meanwhile the Fab member urged people to pluck up the courage to attend Fab meetings as the support that can be provided is invaluable.
She said that the families of drug and alcohol abusers were under tremendous, potentially harmful, pressure from all directions, including the social stigma of living in a small community, and a great deal of support could be received once that first step was taken.