Self-directed Support for Substance Misuse Recovery : The Barriers and Opportunities

The Four Self-directed Support Options

In theory self directed support seems to be the ideal step forward for people suffering problems with addiction, alcoholism or depression but like all such schemes it has its failings.  This project seems to be single minded about just who needs help and can access funding through SDS.  If by chance you are not under a social work order and have done the hard graft to make the transition from compulsive addict to person in recovery I am afraid this scheme will not help you.  To be very blunt this initiative is aimed only at the people still in active use with a chaotic lifestyle.  

Now, I fully accept that people need help with their problems but if it is the social worker telling them they need to get clean then I will be honest with you, that person is not ready.  A person with addiction issues cannot be told when they have to stop or how they do it.  It has to be the person's own choice and that person must feel that they made the choice alone, not through the pressure put upon them by a social worker.  Come on folks, the clue is in the name, Self Directed Support!!  It implies that the person must be in the right state of mind to make these choices and understand and want the various forms of support available.

I'll grant you that on paper this initiative sounds wonderful.  It awards those deemed in need with a pot of money that they can spend on a variety of treatments and recovery aids.  This money can either be held by the local council and distributed as the client wishes (within reason) or be given directly to the client to spend as they see fit.  

One of my main worries with this is simply that if you are going to give someone in the early stages of recovery a lump sum of money you are practically inviting them to relapse and if that did happen the client involved would beat themselves up so badly over it most would never look to the scheme again for help even when they were ready to restart their lives.

So I guess what I am saying is that if you are serious about this initiative it has got to be opened up to people further along in their recovery and that referrals be accepted from other agencies as well.  Let's face it, if you have an addict with a criminal record the last person they are going to open up to is their social worker.  Social workers are the people the court get to write the reports on them that can put them in jail.  I have been there and done it.  So please for once listen to someone who knows what they are talking about.