THERE are some concerns with aspects of the Shalom House rehabilitation program according to an alcohol and drug addiction expert.
National Drug Research Institute adjunct associate professor Nicole Lee said one of the issues with inexperienced treatment providers designing a program on their own based on their personal experience was they often failed to understand the big picture.
Dr Lee said some of the withdrawal processes shown in the Australian Story episode in April were very concerning.
“Withdrawal is at best extremely uncomfortable for most people and at worst physically dangerous,’’ she said.
“People shouldn’t be required to do heavy labour or dangerous activities while going through withdrawal.’’
Dr Lee said research (albeit limited) showed confrontational, shaming approaches to drug treatment often backfired.
“We have been rapidly moving away from these types of approaches since at least the 1980s and very few mainstream residential treatments would have any remnants of this type of approach.
“It was based on the idea that people needed to hit rock bottom, but we know this is not the case now.
“People sometimes recover from drug use problems despite these types of treatments not because of them.’’
Another concern Dr Lee had with the Shalom House program was that the only data presented in the Australian Story episode in April was anecdotal.
“Personal experience is an important part of understanding the effects and outcomes of treatment but treatment providers also need to be able to document basic outcomes.
“Accredited publicly funded services are required to document this data quarterly.
“The (unsubstantiated) figures that Peter Lyndon-James gave, – a 40 per cent dropout and 50 per cent ‘success’ rate (80 per cent of the 60 per cent that didn’t drop out) – are actually worse than mainstream treatment at around 35 per cent and 65 per cent respectively.
“It’s actually relatively easy for someone to get off and stay off drugs in a contained environment like a drug free residential setting.
“The real test comes after treatment and there’s no data to show what the relapse rates are from this program.
“I don’t know of any mainstream publicly funded treatments that operate with a boot camp approach.
“We know that this can backfire and a structured but compassionate approach is more effective for more people.’’
Dr Lee is a director of 360Edge (www.360edge.com.au) a specialist evaluation and training consultancy for the alcohol and other drugs and mental health sectors.
She is a practicing psychologist, and has worked in the alcohol and drug and mental health fields for 25 years as clinician, trainer, researcher and manager.
Her main areas of expertise are in methamphetamine policy and practice, alcohol and other drug dependence, and co-occurring mental health and substance use.
Meanwhile, the City of Swan has provided Echo News with statistics which show most people who support the centre do not live near it and actually do not even live in the local government area.
City of Swan chief executive officer Mike Foley said the city had received 115 submissions objecting to Shalom House and 447 letters of support for the centre.
But a closer look at the support statistics show the city received 13 submissions of non-objection from properties in Henley Brook, 81 submissions of non-objection from properties not in Henley Brook but in the City of Swan and 353 submissions of non-objection from properties not in the City of Swan.
Last week Shalom House founder Mr Lyndon-James was asked if the rehab centre was accredited through a recognised health accreditation standard.
He was also asked if the rehab centre had made a submission to the Mental Health Commission on what a compulsory alcohol and other drug treatment program should look like in Western Australia and if so if Echo News could have a copy of the submission.
By Anita McInnes