I was proud as punch to read of the brave and tireless work that PROMIS alumni, Michael McDowell, is doing in getting help and support for addicts on the streets of Belfast
In a piece today in The Irish News, Michael was quoted as saying:
Michael McDowell, of drug outreach group Belfast Experts By Experience, described the waiting list as an “absolute disgrace”.
“These people have gone through hell just getting to a point where they actually ask for help,” he said.
“To then be told they have to continue risking their lives taking drugs for over a year and a half is unacceptable. This inequitable treatment in comparison to other health trusts must stop before it’s too late for many of them.
“These people are on their knees desperate for help and are quite literally dying for treatment.”
“Support, not punish”
Michael has been working tirelessly to reduce the shame and stigma that addicts experience, and to promote harm reduction methods in helping addicts.
When you see people on the streets with addiction problems, you witness how futile the concept of addicts needing to hit rock bottom really is. At this point it is critical that this damaging idea is abandoned and instead a practical approach is adopted that allows a relationship to be developed with the addicts and then a bridge offered, to help them back into health and wellbeing.
In the past, there has been an unnecessary oppositional attitude between the harm minimisation approach and those promoting abstinence. I believe instead that these opportunities exist on a continuum offering different help to people at different stages of their recovery.
I have asked Michael if he would be prepared to be interviewed about the work that he does now and I am pleased to report that he has agreed so more to follow shortly!