Belfast Telegraph

Drug addict offered free place at top English rehab unit thanks to Northern Ieland crusader

By Lisa Smyth

A Northern Ireland drug addict will be offered a "life-saving" treatment place at a state of the art rehab centre in England.

It is in recognition of the outstanding work being done by an Antrim charity.

The managing director of The Hygrove was so impressed by the dedication and passion of the founder of GUS Health & Wellbeing that he will provide the care to a person it puts forward.

Steve Jones called the work and dedication of Tracy Bell in helping addicts across Northern Ireland "breathtaking".

He has been helping the drug support worker as she aims to set up our first specialist inpatient addiction treatment facility.

Ms Bell (43) described the offer by Mr Jones as a life-saving opportunity, saying: "I'm absolutely delighted.

"It isn't too extreme to say that this is going to save someone's life.

"Steve has asked me to select a person to go the The Hygrove and receive residential treatment for addiction, it's an incredible life-saving opportunity for someone and I am so pleased to be able to offer this.

"I feel like this is an endorsement of the work I have been doing for so long and I am delighted that Steve and the team from The Hygrove are working with me as I develop the charity."

Ms Bell has spoken out in the past about the scale of addiction here and has criticised the services.

She said that heroin and cocaine are commonplace and that drug dealers are raping drug users as a way of settling debts.

Ms Bell set up the charity earlier this year in memory of her brother, who died 20 years ago. Gary Cathcart was the first registered heroin fatality in Northern Ireland, prompting Tracy to get involved in addiction services.

Commenting on his offer to GUS Health & Wellbeing, Mr Jones said: "The Hygrove is committed to supporting Tracy's work and as a private residential treatment provider, was only too pleased to be able to offer Tracy's charity one free residential treatment place in our facility at Gloucestershire, England.

"Having personally worked in the field of addictions for over 25 years, across the private, public and charitable sector, I understand only too well that the impact of drug and alcohol use can be devastating for individuals and communities.

"Drug and alcohol use can affect anyone and any family, often occurring through a range of personal circumstances, and the impact of this on the health and well-being of individuals and their families can be immense."

Referring to one person from here who has already benefited, Mr Jones added: "We were so pleased to be able to open our doors to one young man from Northern Ireland earlier this month and every day watch his growth and recovery during his time at The Hygrove.

"This young man, like many, has experienced a significant amount of trauma through conflict and war - recent studies recognise that drug and alcohol use is often higher in those who have experienced traumatic situations like these than the general population.

"The impact of these on the mental and psychological health of individuals often creates situations where alcohol and drug misuse become a way of self-medicating to block the pain of trauma. We will continue to support colleagues at GUS and across Northern Ireland in their commitment to securing excellent treatment and recovery from addiction.

"This placement is small in comparison to the numbers of individuals and families that need services like ours, but I am delighted we are able to support just one person from Northern Ireland to tackle their addiction and renew their life in the future."

Belfast Telegraph

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