Dave Barrie, service manager with Addaction, said the new strategy is being put in place following changes in the way people with an addiction to powerful opiates such as heroin are helped.
Previously, all those with heroin addictions would be referred to the NHS for treatment via Addaction.
But now users can go directly to the Tayside Substance Misuse Service, based in Constitution House.
Mr Barrie said the charity is now focusing more on people with problems with other drugs and those whose addiction to opiates isn’t at the stage of a long-term addiction.
He said: “Previously, everyone in Dundee who had an alcohol or drug problem would come through Addaction. That’s changed, and now people can go directly for NHS treatment.
“We are now looking at having a more preventative approach to substance misuse.
“We will be looking at helping people who are starting to have problems with drugs, or are recognising some concerns about their drug or alcohol intake.
“We are really looking to support people much earlier on in their alcohol or drug use.
“With the Dundee Drugs Commission being set up, the spotlight is on services in Dundee, so we really want to help people whose drug problems are less entrenched than the ones we previously helped, some of whom have been drug addicts for decades.
“It may be people with problems with other drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines. Often we find issues with these drugs can lead to problem with other drugs such as diazepam or heroin, as folk start to use these drugs to bring them down following a binge.
“We are starting to go into some hostels, chemists and GP surgeries in Dundee for drop-in sessions. If we can get into those venues, then we think we can access people sooner. What we’ve found is we can help people and point them in the direction of the support they need for other things.
“We previously had a presence in the Carseview Centre and it was received well. We realise people with mental health problems, housing problems and other health problems often have substance misuse problems and can be accessed at these places.”
Dave said another key focus would be supporting the family members of those who have drug or alcohol problems, as well as people who have lost a loved one to overdose.
He said: “We recognise that there is a huge isolation and stigma attached to drug addiction and being the parent or family member of someone who is an addict.
“If you have people around you to support you then it makes it so much easier to deal with.
“When you think of the year we have had for drugs deaths – every one of those people leaves behind extended families who are all left grieving.”
Addaction can be contacted on 01382 206888.
Link to Courier article here