Ageing Telford heroin addicts facing chronic health issues
Heroin addicts in Telford are growing older and developing long-term health problems and an increased risk of drug-related death, a committee has been told.
Public Health Consultant Helen Onions told Telford & Wrekin Council’s health and wellbeing board the “ageing cohort” of users were now in the 50s and 60s.
She was presenting a report on Telford & Wrekin’s Drug and Alcohol Strategy, which said one in three opiate or crack cocaine users – 300 people – are not receiving treatment.
But the proportion of opiate users in the area in treatment has risen by more than three per cent since the strategy began, with seven per cent completing rehabilitation in 2017-18.
Ms Onions told the panel: “We do have an ageing cohort of heroin users in their 50s and 60s with entrenched dependencies. This is a group with complex needs.”
But she praised the “thriving peer-recovery community” that the strategy – first approved by the borough’s cabinet in 2014 – has helped to develop.
The updated Drug and Alcohol Strategy document – which was approved by the health and wellbeing board and will go before the cabinet on Thursday,says: “More people are now successfully completing treatment, but there is clear recognition that there is more to do to improve treatment outcomes.
“Many people with drug and alcohol misuse problems, particularly opiate users, have been in treatment for many years.
“This group of people are growing older and often have additional long-term chronic multiple health problems and an increased risk of drug-related deaths.”
Councillor Jacqui Seymour said: “I’ve always thought very highly of our drug and alcohol strategy. I was, therefore, surprised when I came to the STP [Sustainability and Transformation Plan] report that ranked Telford and Wrekin rather lower than I would have thought.”
The System Operational Plan for the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin STP, which was also presented to the board at the same meeting, said: “Shropshire Council is 145th and Telford and Wrekin Council 96th out of 149 local authorities for drug treatment summary.”
It added that Telford and Wrekin is 123rd and Shropshire 103rd for “tobacco control”.
Ms Onions pointed out that the STP report used data from 2016-17 and was “a couple of years out of date”.
She said: “We know we’ve moved forward since then.
“We’re around the top of the table in our alcohol treatment and it’s a better picture overall with the newer data.”