Joondalup Health Campus takes unique approach to addiction treatment amid drug scourge

Mental health award winners Greg Gordon, Linda Locke, Brendon Burns, Eben De Jager, Richard O’Regan, Sue Helfgott and Mark Anderson.
Mental health award winners Greg Gordon, Linda Locke, Brendon Burns, Eben De Jager, Richard O’Regan, Sue Helfgott and Mark Anderson.

DOCTORS and nurses at Joondalup Health Campus know the drug addiction scourge in the northern suburbs better than most.

Last year there were nearly 20 referrals from the hospital per week to an in-house drug addiction service.

Recent Department of Health data showed Joondalup emergency department medicos treated about two crystal methamphetamine-affected patients a day.

The figures align with national wastewater study findings this month, which indicated Perth residents were second only to Adelaide as the heaviest users of methamphetamine. It also found ecstasy and cocaine use in the city had increased.

The unyielding use of illicit substances has meant addiction services are under immense pressure.

But help is at hand for addicts in the northern suburbs.

According to the Mental Health Commission, substance abuse treatment in Perth’s north is among the best in WA.

The commission recently acknowledged a groundbreaking collaboration between Joondalup Health Campus (JHC) and two community health services at a recent awards night as the most effective partnership in the state for drug and alcohol addiction therapy.

The hospital has partnered with the North Metro Community Alcohol and Drug Service (NMCADS) as well as Joondalup Community Mental Health, to offer a more rounded approach to treatment.

The partnership has been running since 2015.

Senior doctor Richard O’Regan, who is associated with the NMCADS leg of the program, hoped the recognition would shore up support for the initiative.

“This award recognises a project that has never occurred in WA before. It’s like opening a door for these people to get the longer term help they need,” he said.

JHC mental health services manager Linda Locke said the collaboration meant counselling and medical help continued for patients even after they left hospital.

The services can only be accessed upon referral from the hospital. One part of the program is an “inreach” service, which had nearly 1000 referrals – just under a 20 a week – to it last year.

The service is made up of a clinical nurse and an addiction medicine consultant, both from NMCADS. Clinical nurse specialist Greg Gordon, who has been a part of the project since its inception, said it integrated with hospital procedure.

“When a nurse, doctor – or anyone else caring for a patient – identifies that the patient may have a drug or alcohol issue, they now ask if they would like to have contact with the drug and alcohol ‘inreach’ team, who can provide them with an assessment, advice on treatment and support options,” he said.

Drug Addiction Help

North Metro Community Alcohol and Drug Service

Joondalup: 9301 3200

Warwick: 9246 6767

Meth Helpline: 1800 874 878

Alcohol and Drug Support Line: 9442 5000

Parent and Family Drug Support Line: 9442 5050