A SPECIALIST service to help people overcome long-term drinking problems has been extended to cover the whole of Kirklees.

People heavily dependent on alcohol can have detoxification treatment at home to safely stop drinking, supervised by a specialist nurse.

Follow-up support is also provided.

Now more staff are being recruited by Lifeline Kirklees’ Alcohol Service to increase coverage from North Kirklees to the whole of the borough.

The development is part of a three-year action plan to reduce alcohol misuse and is funded by Kirklees Primary Care Trust.

Clr Khizar Iqbal, who chairs the Kirklees Safer Stronger Communities Partnership, said: “Agencies are working together to tackle alcohol misuse and new measures are being introduced to ensure Kirklees residents are safer and healthier.”

An extra alcohol liaison nurse has been recruited in Huddersfield to cover South Kirklees. In addition, two workers will offer the treatment from eight GP surgeries across North and South Kirklees.

Community detoxification treatment is part of a wider range of support and intervention offered by Lifeline Kirklees’ Alcohol Service for both harmful and dependent drinkers.

Another alcohol worker is also joining Lifeline Kirklees to support harmful drinkers – clients in the early stages of alcohol misuse – who do not need detoxifiication treatment but need practical help with reducing their consumption.

Tony Cooke, assistant director of Commissioning and Strategic Development for Drugs, Alcohol and Community Safety at Kirklees Primary Care Trust, said: “Reducing alcohol misuse and ensuring residents are healthier is a major priority. We are increasing treatment provision to help achieve this.”

The Kirklees Partnership Alcohol Strategy is seeking to expand treatment provision, increase awareness of sensible drinking levels and reduce alcohol-related health problems, anti-social behaviour and crime.

The community detoxification treatment programme was developed by Tricia Robinson, clinical nurse specialist, of Lifeline Kirklees, based in Dewsbury, who looks after clients in the north of the district.

She said: “Clients need this medical intervention when they reach a crisis point because of excessive drinking, for example, when their health has seriously deteriorated or their life is falling apart and they can’t function without alcohol.

“Detoxing and then staying sober is challenging. Alcohol is legal, widely available and socially acceptable. People have to work at developing skills to cope with the craving for alcohol once the detoxification is completed. It can take several attempts before someone achieves sobriety.”

Nurses assess if a client is suitable for the detoxification treatment and if it is safe to be administered at home.

The treatment comprises medication, lasting up to 10 to 14 days, which helps to combat withdrawal symptoms, including shaking, sweating, agitation, confusion and the risk of fits.

Hazel Ramsden, Alcohol Liaison Nurse, who has taken up her post in Huddersfield, said: “Staying sober and coping with sobriety is where the real challenge begins. And for that, there is no prescription.

“Clients review their lifestyle and develop new coping strategies. Learning to live without alcohol can require, for example, changing the way they socialise. Varying support is available, including groups and counselling. The client decides what’s right for them.

“We take a non-judgemental approach and urge people to return if they relapse rather than leave it until the problem escalates. In the long term, this treatment can be very successful, kickstarting clients into a new life free from alcohol.”

For help, phone the Lifeline Kirklees 24-hour hotline on 01484 353333.