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More support for drug addicts kicking habit

Individuals battling drug and alcohol dependence are getting more support from their own families as they try to kick the habit, according to Court Services staff.

Greg Todd, clinical supervisor for the Bermuda Assessment and Referral Centre (BARC) team, told The Royal Gazette they had noticed that in the past six months clients were often accompanied by relatives to assessments.

The four-strong BARC team conduct about 300 drug and alcohol assessments, which include urine tests, every year in order to find suitable treatment options for their clients.

“One good thing we have noticed in the last six months is that there seems to be more families involved in the recovery process of our clients,” said Dr Todd. “They are being brought in by spouses, brothers and other family members. But negatively there has been a decrease in the actual investment in the programme by clients.

“We see people doing the programmes simply so they can get Financial Assistance or medical support. It’s like they are ticking a box.”

Hundreds of men and women are referred to the BARC team every year. Between 50 and 60 per cent of the team’s clients are referred by the court to look at treatment options. However, individuals can also self-refer or be referred for a BARC assessment from Child and Family Services, the Employment Assistance Programme and Financial Assistance.

The work of the BARC officers complements the extensive efforts of the Court Service report-writing team which provides the courts with hundreds of pre-sentence reports as well as parole reports each year.

Dr Todd added: “We tend to get an increase in people around Christmas, as some people have difficulties with the holidays, and also around Cup Match.

“We do dozens of assessments every week which total around 300 a year.

“Internally our biggest challenge is always ensuring our assessments are comprehensive and represent the needs of our clients.

“Outside it is making sure that the service provider can meet those needs. Client numbers vacillate and at times we see a lot of self-referrals.”

Derek Flood, manager of the assessment and treatment unit, added: “The number of BARC assessments ebbs and flows.

“In the new year we see an increase, when people say to themselves ‘I’m going to make a new start’, as well as after major holidays and it will also depend on the quantity of drugs on the streets.”