Minister visits Galway Simon to learn about Detox Project

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galway daily news minister visits simon community in galway
L-R: Tanya McBrearty (Galway Simon), Andrea Fitzgerald (Galway Simon), Minister Frank Feighan and Gerry Diamond (Galway Simon).

Minister of State for Public Health Frank Feighan has met with staff at Galway Simon Community to learn about the impact of a project working with people who have addictions to “Benzos”.

The Community Detox Project was established in 2019 and has since worked with 40 people to help them to reduce their drug use safely.

The Minister also met with GPs and HSE staff who explained the difference this project has made to people seeking help.

Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, told the Minister that people often would want to stop but in order to get help, get a bed in a treatment centre, they would have to wait, until a bed became available.

There is a significant problem of Benzodiazepiene abuse – they are very addictive and people can become highly dependent. There are also risks with detoxing and medical oversight is necessary.

Through Galway Simon’s project, with funding from the HSE, people have very focused support from a key worker who will work along with the Client and GP, and take time to help them to prepare for a detox.

The key worker also provides support with day to day difficulties that might set them back. The people who have been referred to the project get a chance to reflect on whether they are ready to reduce their drug intake and work towards stopping.

Once a person is ready, the key worker acts like a coach, helping the person to set goals and meet them.

The keyworker is available between GP appointments, to help the person within any practical difficulties that may set them back.

“Drugs, alcohol and substance misuse are critical problems contributing to and exacerbating homelessness, we have to have ways to help people get out of the spiral of addiction and we have to be able to respond quickly when people seek help, not put them on waiting lists”, Karen Golden said.

The collaboration between clients with drug dependency, their Doctors and the Key Workers in this Service has really made a difference.

Providing a safe medical detox where people have time and the necessary support to stabilize and recover in the community has been a very welcome development in Galway City.