Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 16:48 UK

Drug users face treatment wait

Heroin (generic)
Heroin users face a wait for treatment in parts of Wales.

Problems with waiting times for treating heroin users in Wales have been highlighted by an official report.

The review by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) was commissioned by social justice minister Dr Brian Gibbons and it makes 34 recommendations.

Waiting times are called a "significant barrier" to getting treatment in some parts of Wales, while there is also a lack of mental health support to users.

But Dr Gibbons said there had been a huge expansion in services.

The report recommends better systems to protect children and vulnerable adults and give information after reviews into drug-related deaths.

Some service premises were found to be inadequate, said the report, along with access to mental health support for substance abusers in many areas.

Among other recommendations are identifying better ways to access services and improve waiting times.

'Increased crime'

This first in a series of reviews of the level of service across Wales focused on the provision of substitute drugs such as methadone for users of illegal drugs like heroin.

There had been advances in availability of services, said the report, but there were still variations across Wales with waiting times a significant barrier in some areas.

The report highlights concerns about levels of support for children and vulnerable adults and warns about "leakage" of prescribed medication on to the illegal market which has been linked to a number of drug-related deaths.

Peter Higson, chief executive of HIW said: "Substance misuse affects not only those who misuse substances but also their families and friends.

"It can result in increased crime, poor educational achievement and anti-social behaviour. Hence the effects on society in general can be far-reaching."

The most pressing barrier for many users is the time they have to wait for treatment
Healthcare Inspectorate Wales

Dr Brian Gibbons said: "This report is the first full stock-take of substance misuse in Wales.

It provides us with a platform to build on the considerable progress made in recent years."

The report follows claims last year that heroin addicts in Swansea were waiting over 12 months for help.

The Swansea Drugs Project said then there was a "crisis" in the availability of treatment and called for more funding.

Alan Andrews, a former drug addict who now runs the drug intervention drop-in centre Choose Life Cymru in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, said he would also like to see more investment in the services that support addicts in their battle to come off drugs.

"Most drug addicts don't choose to be drug addicts," he said.

"I don't think it's as simple as prescribing medication to get people off drugs. Addicts have long-term issues that need to be addressed if they are to stay clean.

"Yes, there should be a place for those substitute drugs (such as methadone) but there also has to be day-to-day support for people to make the changes that they need in their lives to bring about positive change."

Addicts commit crime to get help
16 Jun 09 |  Wales
City's heroin treatment 'crisis'
07 Feb 08 |  South West Wales
Heroin use among young 'rising'
21 Apr 08 |  South West Wales

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific