Dismay as advice service for drug addicts is axed


The founder of Drugsline said this week that he was "extremely disappointed" that the specialist service for addicts and their families had been closed down.

Norwood, the charity which has run Drugsline for the past three years, said the once-a-week evening drop-in centre and the drugs awareness workshops for schools and youth groups were being axed in a refocusing of resources.

The charity said it would continue support to individuals with addiction problems through its social work and counselling teams.

But Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, who founded Drugsline in 1989, believed that there remained "a tremendous need" for the sevice. "But no one wants to pick it up. It makes me frustrated because there is an issue of addiction within the Jewish community."

He said he remained grateful to Norwood for taking it over after government cuts made it no longer sustainable as an independent charity "because it would have been totally lost".

Norwood explained that the savings made by the cut would be "minimal".

Its specialist drug and alcohol worker would be more closely integrated within its social work teams, providing "a more holistic package of support to families by addressing any underlying causes of substance abuse, as well as taking into consideration its effect on the whole family".

Increased public recognition of substance issue meant that Drugsline was "no longer a unique service", Norwood said. "Like any charity we need to direct our resources where they are needed most."

Other providers such as the Amy Winehouse Foundation or Addaction could provide drug and alcohol education to schools at no cost, the charity said.

From July 2014 to March 2015, Drugsline had delivered educational workshops to 1,808 people, mainly in Jewish schools, Norwood said.

Over the same period, it has received 82 calls, emails or visits to its drop-in centre, 46 of which were about substance misuse.

Rabbi Sufrin, who remains involved in drug counselling, said he was still receiving up to three inquiries daily, with calls for help from within the strictly Orthdox community on the rise.

Laurie Rackind, chief executive of Jewish mental health charity Jami, said it was "critical" that the closure "does not mean that those within our community who are affected by drugs, alcohol and substance abuse have nowhere to turn".

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