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Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009
Rehab centre expands in Suffolk
By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk

Heroin equipment
Iceni estimate there are up to 4,000 class A drug users in Suffolk

A drug rehabilitation project in Ipswich has moved into its new, larger premises although there are worries about funding.

In November 2009, Iceni moved from a 12 room centre to a new 40 room building where they help up to 85 addicts.

It costs around £400,000 to run each year and 80% of that figure comes from central government.

However, they're going to have to wait until 2010 for a decision about extra help from Suffolk County Council.

"It just makes you forget about everything that's going on in your life. It just totally relaxes your mind," said 21-year-old Kim Barham of Ipswich about her heroin habit which peaked at £50 a day.

"It's just like smoking weed really, but much more addictive and much more full-on. In Ipswich, everywhere you turn is someone who sells it or knows someone who sells it."

Kim is one of Iceni's success stories. She started using cannabis at the age of 13 and soon moved on to heroin.

Kim Barham in front of The Mill, Ipswich
Kim Barham - addiction was caused by hanging around with the 'wrong crowd'

"So many of my friends were smoking it and they were a lot older than me and I thought it was cool. I thought I was one of the gang - it's a bit sad really.

"I started going out with a boy who was older than me and a dealer.

"We didn't get any real drug awareness in school apart from 'Don't do drugs, you'll end up homeless or on the street' but they didn't go into any more detail."

Kim says she was clean for two years when she was living in Spain, but when she returned she was soon back on heroin.

In March 2009 she referred herself to Iceni having been given alternative medication by Suffolk's Community Drug Team.

New building, new job prospects

In November 2009, Iceni moved from its premises in Fore Street in Ipswich town centre to a much bigger building on Foundation Street.

Gary Clark at Iceni

"That gives us scope to develop new interventions which we hope to start over the coming 12 months," said Brian Tobin, Iceni's director.

"It's got state of the art facilities in terms of the IT suite. We've got big ambitions of finding work for our clients, which had been the bane of our lives because we were very good at treating people but not taking the next step.

"We've got Suffolk New College coming in and training people on computers and with literacy."

Part of the treatment programme for addicts involves acupuncture.

They use the ancient Chinese practice by inserting needles into the ears that they claim helps clients overcome cravings by linking to addiction centres in the brain.

"We're working with the spiritual, mental and physical needs of the body and its treatment," said Jo Tobin, Iceni's acupuncturist.

"The clients that have acupuncture are the ones that will stay in treatment longer and it supports them all the way through and we find it's very successful."

Gainful employment

Iceni says it has a 43% success rate in dealing with addictions compared to an average of 26% at other centres.

The charity played a major role in the wake of the Suffolk Murders of 2006. They were active in helping women sex workers try and beat their drug habits and leave street prostitution.

"Everyone's unique and we don't look at the addiction - we look at the person," said Brian Tobin.

"Drugs is just a symptom of something alongside crime, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, sexual diseases - they're all symptoms of a fractured society if you like.

Brian Tobin outside the new Iceni building on Foundation Street, Ipswich
Brian Tobin outside the new Iceni building on Foundation Street, Ipswich

"We're looking at what's underpinning all that and that's why our treatment is quite intense. It's getting under the skin of the individual.

"We can't do it on our own. We need the community to get involved and we're always looking for volunteers.

"It's not all doom and gloom. Millions of people try drugs - it's only a minority that become hardened addicts.

"We need more businesses to get involved and give some of these people a chance with a job."

Kim Barham is now doing a mechanics course at Suffolk New College, hopes to get a job and dreams of becoming a rally driver.

"I didn't take any exams at school which I really regret. People said I'd regret it when I was older but I didn't listen to them."

Watch the BBC Look East report:


Drug charity expands with new HQ

Iceni can be contacted on 01473 214006 and their address is 64-70 Foundation Street, Ipswich, IP4 1BN. Their website is in the process of being re-launched.

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