Bristol Health Partners’ Drug and Alcohol Health Integration Team (HIT) brought together people from across the UK who share an interest in improving opioid substitution treatment (OST) for a workshop on 7 July.
Among the attendees were people with lived experience, Public Health England team members, local authority public health practitioners, treatment service leads, pharmacists and researchers.
Dr Vicky Carlisle from the University of Bristol presented the findings of her recently completed PhD, and the group considered the next stages of developing an intervention to improve OST.
OST refers to the treatment of opioid dependency with either methadone or buprenorphine (alongside psychosocial support).
Vicky’s research aimed to understand what the key facilitators and barriers are to people ‘recovering’ in OST. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, she found that loneliness, isolation and experiences of trauma and stigma were key barriers to recovery; whereas positive social support, discovering a sense of purpose and continuity of care were valuable facilitators.
“Being able to present my findings to key stakeholders was a real highlight of my PhD work; it’s not often that you have the ear of so many invested and engaged individuals in one ‘room’ (albeit a Zoom room!). My findings chimed closely with the experiences of those in the room and were further reflected the next day when Dame Carol Black’s Review of drugs: phase two report was published, which made specific reference to stigma.”
The Drug and Alcohol HIT will continue to support Vicky in working with people with lived experience to make OST safer and more attractive to those whose lives depend on it.
Following this successful workshop, next steps involve a funding application to develop an intervention to reduce organisational stigma towards OST service users.
If you are an individual with lived experience of OST, an academic, or any other stakeholder working in this area and would like to be involved with future developments, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org