People living with this illness deserve empathy, access to treatment and support. The government should use the upcoming spending review to invest in addiction services
By Professor Julia Sinclair, who is chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists addiction faculty; Julia Sinclair@drjmas
I’m a doctor and, with my team, I help a lot of very unwell people recover from illness, often saving their lives.
Covid-19 has heightened their needs and the demand for our help has rocketed, meaning that many people go without support or face long waits.
But compassion for my patients is often on the thin side. And there’s little sympathy for the many unable to access support.
My patients suffer from addiction, many have a problematic relationship with alcohol or other drugs.
While the stigma around mental health disorders is thankfully waning, the same cannot be said for people with an alcohol use disorder. The question of “fault” looms strongly over individuals.
People with an addiction are made to feel ashamed and treated as if they simply can’t be bothered to stop. Current attitudes mean that pledging to improve their services is not a vote winner and those struggling to cope are forgotten.