What is Heroin Assisted Treatment?
Heroin Assisted Treatment, or HAT, is a medical treatment for people with a long-term dependency on heroin, who have failed to respond to any other drug treatment.
The scheme launched in October 2019 and will initially target up to 15 of the most ‘at risk’ people in Middlesbrough, who are causing most concern to criminal justice agencies and health & social care services.
Individuals selected to take part in the treatment will be asked to attend a specialist facility (see pictured) in Middlesbrough twice a day, seven days a week, where they will be assessed to determine the dose of diamorphine (medical grade heroin) they will be prescribed that visit.
Participants will then be taken to a dedicated treatment room, where they will self-administer the diamorphine under supervision of medically trained staff. They will be assessed for 10-15 minutes to ensure there is no adverse reaction to the medication.
Once their drug use has stabilised, participants will spend time with specialists from other agencies to help them rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society.
Why in Middlesbrough?
Middlesbrough local authority area accounts for the highest rate of adult re-offending, opiate use and drug-related deaths in the country. Recent news coverage has once again highlighted the North East region as the highest in the country for drug-related deaths.
Entrenched heroin dependency continues to be a key driver for acquisitive crime in the Cleveland Police force area, with a cohort of ‘revolving door’ offenders placing increased demand on the local criminal justice system.
Research conducted by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner found that 20 individuals who met the proposed criteria for the HAT scheme over a 24-month period were detected to have committed 351 crimes, costing society £784,890 - the equivalent to £5.58 per head of population in Middlesbrough. This figure is only based on known crime - the true figure is likely to be higher still.
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger realised that a different approach was needed to tackle the problem and started working with partners across the area to explore the use of new and innovative treatment methods.
How will it help?
The scheme, led by Clinical Lead Danny Ahmed from Foundations Medical Practice, will bring significant benefits and efficiencies to criminal justice agencies and wider society through:
- Reduced crime and repeat offending
- Fewer short-term prison sentences
- Reduced antisocial behaviour and drug-related litter
- Reduced admissions to A&E and drug-related deaths
- Better treatment outcomes for hard-to-treat users
- Disrupting funding streams to criminal gangs involved in drug supply
The participant experience
Click below to hear from participants Julie* and James* about their experiences on the programme and the difference it has made: