Tom Barnes - The-Latest EXCLUSIVE
Teenaged addicts are to be denied "life saving" treatment because referrals to the only dedicated youth drug rehab centre in Britain are being axed by health chiefs. Funders plan to switch cash from Middlegate Lodge to cheaper treatments in the community.
Sarah Graham, spokesperson for the high profile drugs advice life line FRANK, told The-Latest: “It is very difficult for teenagers to come off drugs in their communities. They may have an alcohol or drug dependant parent. They may be subject to pressure amongst their peer group. Middlegate provide life saving treatment to teen drug addicts, so it’s important it stays open.”
Young people themselves have rallied to the call to save the centre by, among other activities, setting up a Facebook page to rally supporters.
Middlegate Lodge, set in the tranquil Lincolnshire Wolds, provides a sanctuary to drug and alcohol dependent teens far away from the temptations of their everyday lives. It is a unique Ofsted-registered, residential rehabilitation unit which, since 1995, has been treating and caring for young people aged 11-18 years of age.
Because of cash cut-backs, Middlegate has only five beds available to treat young people. Three years ago it was forced to lay off 10 programme workers and to close a four-bed unit.
Yvonne Pickwick’s daughter Louise was treated at Middlegate when she was just 15. The housewife from Oxfordshire believes that without the dedicated team at the unit her daughter would no longer be alive.
She said: "At first I thought it was teenage rebellion. But when she started getting into heroin I knew it was serious. I used to walk the streets looking for her. If it was not for Middlegate I don't know if she would still be with us."
Louise, now 26, spent three months at Middlegate in 1999. She does not believe she could have kicked her habit if she had remained in her home town
She said: "There is no way I would have come off drugs in Banbury. My social circle was mixed up with drugs.”
Eight of Louise’s drug addicted friends have died in the last 10 years, including the father of her first child.
“When my son’s father died I realised that it was time to get clean. My son had been taken into care and my life was a total mess. I certainly do not think I would be alive to be telling this tale if it were not for the staff at Middlegate,” said Louise.
The National Treatment Agency (NTA) is a health authority within the UK’s National Health Service. It works in partnership with local councils advising on treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. The NTA is behind moves to wind down Middlegate.
Its spokesman Paul Hayes, said: “Child experts now recommend that vulnerable young people are best helped in their community. Most under-18s have not been taking drugs long enough for it to result in dependency. Substance misuse is a symptom of wider troubles – offending, truancy, mental health issues, family and relationship problems. This requires a wider portfolio of care than whatMiddlegate can offer.”
But Deirdre Boyd, of addiction today, believes that the NTA comments are misjudged. She said: “While it is difficult to diagnose most under-18s as being addicted to drugs (rather than choosing to use), that is no excuse not to support the only teen rehab in the country. Rehabs offer people the opportunity to learn from their past and take responsibility for their future, particularly through forging healthy relationships."
"One of Middlegate’s residents, for example, left behind a life of child prostitution to qualify for university after successful treatment. All accredited rehabs address the issues Paul Hayes mentions. His comment shows a sad lack of understanding of what rehabs offer. Or, indeed, what true recovery is,” said Boyd.