Council green light to free leisure use for recovering addicts

Members of Argyll and Bute Council have backed plans to allow recovering drug addicts free, supported use of the authority’s leisure facilities as part of their treatment programme.

The proposal to set up a partnership arrangement with all support services who want to use the council’s leisure facilities as part of addicts’ treatment programmes was voted through at a full council meeting in Lochgilphead on Thursday.

Lead councillor for adult care, Ann Horn said, “This move will be one of a package of support measures from the public and third sector which will help people’s recovery and improve their general health and wellbeing.

“There are already 26 drug and alcohol services across Argyll and Bute but only two have any formal links to their local council leisure services. However feedback from the services and individuals involved has been very positive. “Both organisations who have taken part found the arrangement a great opportunity to help people’s recovery. I believe a more structured partnership arrangement with alcohol and drug misuse services will be a positive development.”

The partnership arrangement will be evaluated and monitored with regular attendance looked at and quarterly multi agency meetings. There will also be an annual report of overall usage.

The proposal has attracted a mixed public response on Bute since we broke the story on Thursday morning.

Responding to a council spokesperson’s statement that “drug and alcohol addictions are medical conditions which can cause significant harm to individuals, their families and communities”, Ardbeg resident Kaz Molloy, who has fought a successful battle against cancer, said on our Facebook page: “If the council believes that it will help people with ‘medical conditions’ then why not allow people with cancer/MS/heart conditions etc to have free access as well?”

Kaz’s husband Terry said called the statement “an ill timed comment by the council that was bound to cause controversy”.

He said: “I’ve no objection to people being given therapy for any problem they have but the council has a responsibility to everyone.”

Carol Sprowl, meanwhile, said she thought the move was “terrible” and that she didn’t believe drug or alcohol addictions were medical conditions, pointing out that the effects wouldn’t be felt if people didn’t take the drugs in the first place.

But Angela Haggerty responded: “People know the council aren’t going to extend this to everyone in Argyll and Bute with a medical condition because we could probably all argue that we have one.

“I can only guess what they really want is for the council to scrap it for drug addicts. If we can’t all have it, nobody should have it, even if it could actually have made a difference to tackling a serious problem.

“I think that’s a disappointing attitude.”