Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Mark Eltringham (DP079)

This has only been drawn to my attention today and I would have liked more time to prepare. I am interested in making a submission to the committee and if appropriate appearing before them.

As a recovering heroin addict of over 10 who has been free of drugs for almost two and a half years I have a view on my own recovery and have become interested in what works and what doesn’t. I am happy to provide an expanded submission should that be possible but to summarise:

45 year old former heroin addict living on Teesside (Stockton-on-Tees), NE England.

Unusual (although not unique) in that I was a professional (graduate, working as SHE manger in the chemical industry).

Addict since my late 20s, drug free since October 2009).

Patient of the Addictive Behaviours Service (ABS) in Stockton, part Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).

I now volunteer for TEWV within ABS and in other part of the Trust. I believe that this support and opportunity to be involved has been a key part of my recovery.

I have become interested in the whole health arena as part of my recovery and passionate about what works in terms of treatment. Certain treatments have (and still are) working for me. For example I take Naltrexone Hydrochloride, an opioid antagonist (a blocker). This is now prescribed by my GP but most GPs are not keen to prescribe to addicts.

Through my volunteering I am developing a role as a service user representative working within my own service and the various 3rd sector agencies in the area.

TEWV is active in seeking the views and participation of service users and carers. This is to be encouraged I think. I gained a great deal (and was of some use) when I participated in a week long workshop on dual diagnosis last year.

I am active locally having become part of the Local Involvement Network (LINk) and building up contacts within the Drug and Alcohol Action Team, local authority, GP groups and carers organisations.

As somebody who although well qualified is long-term unemployed I am now participating in the Work Programme (WP) and through my volunteering and other activities seeking to work with the WP provider to return to employment. This requires a degree of openness about my history. This something of an experiment at the moment.

I am familiar with the Report of the Global Commission on drug Policy and believe that there is much of use in it. There are some radical proposals contained within it that could prove to be extremely cost effective.

I have serious concerns about alcohol use and its prevalence, especially amongst the young.

I feel that criminalising addicts is expensive.

12 step programmes (Alcoholics & Narcotics Anonymous) work for some but do introduce another level of dependency. There are other (more scientific) routes to recovery (Smart) which have their place too.

People can become dependent on services.

There is no such thing as an addictive personality.

I would very much like the opportunity to expand on this but fear that I have missed the deadline for a formal submission.

Sorry for the rushed nature of this email. I didn’t want to completely miss the deadline.

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012