Addiction treatment needs specialists not just medical professionals

In recent news, there has been a study conducted to see how having addiction specialist nurses in GP surgeries could help those struggling with addiction in Scotland.

In 2020, according to National Records of Scotland data, 1,190 people died from alcohol-related deaths in Scotland. Deaths were 4.3 times higher in the most disadvantaged areas of Scotland.

According to the BBC article, the primary aim of the PCANOS is to reach patients with alcohol problems who are not engaging specialist community alcohol services.

Principal researcher Dr Andrea Mohan, from the University of Dundee, said people from deprived backgrounds "continued to suffer serious harms" due to alcohol.

She added: "Supporting this group can be challenging as they often have complex health and social needs, and find it difficult to access appropriate services.

"It is crucial that a service like PCANOS continues to be funded as our study has shown that it is filling an important gap in alcohol service provision in Glasgow."

The study found that the PCANOS project led to faster referrals and co-ordinated care between GP services and wider community services after discharge.

Although this study is only taking place in Scotland for now it is important to recognise that this is a nationwide issue.

Addiction is a complex problem which has to be dealt with in a specialist way. Because of this, it would make sense for addiction specialist trained nurses and doctors to be dealing with this heart-breaking disease that so many people suffer with.

The brain is a complicated and confusing element of the body where addiction can stem from. With the help of more specialists at more available locations this could dramatically help reduce the number of deaths we see related to addiction each year. The more resources readily available would be a huge benefit to communities. Especially in deprived areas.

It is important to have specialists which understand the disease in full. There have been countless cases where individuals suffering with addiction have been advised the wrong advice. This is not acceptable.

Again, relating back to the original BBC article. Elinor Jayne, director of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said investing in the project could reduce the burden on other NHS services.

She said: "Alcohol harm disproportionately affects people living in Scotland's most disadvantaged communities, so targeted, innovative services such as this addictions nurse model are to be celebrated."

Public Health Minister, Maree Todd, said the Scottish government would "carefully consider" the report, as it highlighted the need for more research into the effectiveness of these services.

She said: "We're determined to reduce harms where they are greatest and have announced increased investment in tackling problematic alcohol and drug use - including potential restrictions on alcohol advertising, reviewing minimum unit pricing and improving health information on product labels."

So, what can we take from this study? It is important to realise the benefits of having addiction specialists at more accessible medical practises.

It is something that should be available for anyone who needs it. The study taking place in Scotland illustrates how this could be beneficial for the whole of the UK.

With rising numbers of deaths relating to drug and alcohol addiction it is vital that we understand the severity and complexity of the problem. That we need to as a nation address with specialists in the field who can provide the best care and support for those who desperately need it and have been effected by addiction.

This study is a positive step in the right direction when looking at how we tackle addiction issues. Hopefully it will continue.

What do you think?