Addicts targeted by £15m Devon abstinence project

Seymour Pantry
Image caption Seymour Pantry was an intravenous drug user for 28 years before moving to Devon

A £15m service to help drug and alcohol addicts will begin in Devon.

The project, which is being run by charities, will encourage users to try abstinence to tackle their addiction and aims to move them away from substitutes like methadone.

Charities, Addaction and the EDP have been given the three-year contract by Devon County Council.

Former substance users have helped create the service which will begin on Tuesday.

'Keep user quiet'

Seymour Pantry, 51, from Barnstaple, who was an intravenous drug user for 28 years before moving to Devon, said he believed he spent too long taking methadone - a prescribed substitute for heroin.

"I don't think the actual service looked at the problems of what methadone does... they looked at the problem of just keeping the drug user quiet really.

Image caption Addaction's Gerry Flanangan said methadone would "remain significant" for users

"If you said to me, now here's your methadone Seymour, here's something to do about it, here's the dangers of it, then it would be different... that's what's being implemented now."

Addaction's Gerry Flanangan, who helped to set up the new service, said methadone would "remain significant" but the charities would also look at what other issues had to be addressed.

He added in the long-term the usage would be reduced and users would be encouraged to come off the medication.

Devon County Council predicts that the number of people dependent on drugs will rise by 4 per cent to 15,713 by 2030. It expects nearly 28,000 people will be dependent on alcohol by 2030.

Kristian Tomblin, manager of Devon's Drug and Alcohol Team said: "Some of the emerging patterns in behaviour show an increase in issues like dependency on over the counter prescription drugs and a rise in the number of professional women consuming harmful amounts of alcohol.

"We constantly need to adapt our service to respond to these needs.

"We are confident that this service has the flexibility to offer people the individual support they need."

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