Drug Use By The Vulnerable In Society

This was a week that Henry and Joes cooked the main course. We provided a homemade winter vegetable soup to accompany Henry and Joes chicken and bacon carbonara. For dessert we made a plum and apple crumble which was served with custard. The Supermarket food donations were not as full with respect of fresh produce this week, it was mainly bread, bananas (from the new Co-Op) and meat. Jan managed cobble together an excellent and popular tray of roast vegetables, tomato salad and a green salad. Silk purse out of a sows ear a bit this week but it is what we have become very good at. I think it’s Jan previous experience on “Ready Steady Cook” that helps! 

Often client’s relapse in recovery and find their circumstances change as a result. This can mean they end up homeless again as they have become evicted from their accommodation, leave rehab, relationships breakdown and they have to leave where they are living. Emotions can spill over which exacerbates the addiction and the cycle and spiral starts very quickly. 

With this in mind when a client comes into us low, depressed, disappointed in themselves, remorseful or confused all we can do is support. We can discuss other options available to them at that time and do our best to facilitate or signpost to a positive pathway for the individual to receive help they need. This will be through the Council or other addiction and homeless organisations. 

It is easy for anyone to “judge” or “give them a strong pet talk” but that does not help anyone and does not work. Our clients need kindness and definitely a non-judgemental approach. We are all human and we all make bad decisions and mistakes in life. Who are any of us to judge? We pick people when they come to us for help up, not put them down. All organisations who work with this cohort of people are ultimately working hard to get the same outcomes and to help. Cohesion within communities is paramount to gain the best outcomes for the people that need it. 

When a person has been without drugs or alcohol in their system, a period of sobriety they are at huge risk if they start using or drinking again. We have to always keep out for sign of a person OVERDOSING (OD).  These symptoms are 


Opioids are a type of stronger painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain. They include codeine and morphine, as well as the illegal drug heroin.

Specific signs of opioid poisoning include:

  • small pupils 
  • shallow breathing
  • drowsiness

Stimulant overdose

If you take too much of a stimulant-like drug, such as cocaine, amphetamine, crack or ecstasy, overdose signs can include:

  • anxiety and paranoia
  • restlessness or agitation 
  • hallucinations
  • high temperature 
  • chest pain 
  • rapid breathing 
  • irregular or fast heartbeat 

Cannabis overdose

If you smoke (or eat) too much cannabis, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • paranoia 
  • hallucinations 
  • numbness in your arms and legs

If you drink after a period of sobriety therefore you have a lack of physical tolerance to alcohol 


  • Vomiting uncontrollably 
  • Chest Pains
  • Breathlessness or laboured breathing
  • Heart Failure

Alcohol poisoning (too much alcohol) can lead to symptoms of 


  • confusion 
  • severely slurred speech 
  • loss of co-ordination 
  • vomiting
  • irregular or slow breathing 
  • pale or blue-tinged skin caused by low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • being conscious but unresponsive (stupor)
  • passing out and being unconscious 

In the most severe cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to coma, brain damage and death.

Many of our volunteers are trained in fast treatment with an opioid overdose by using a Naloxone injection. Naloxone is the emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates or opioids (such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl).

The main life-threatening effect of heroin and other opiates is to slow down and stop breathing. Naloxone blocks this effect and reverses the breathing difficulties.

Naloxone is a prescription-only medicine, so pharmacies cannot sell it over the counter. But drug services can supply it without a prescription. And anyone can use it to save a life in an emergency.


Swanswell West Berkshire is an alcohol and drug recovery service for adults who want to change their alcohol and/or drug use and live in West Berkshire. It is common for people at risk of Opoid overdose to receive a Naloxone kit from agencies such as this. 

We sat with a client who was tearful and angry. Due to losing a job of which he thought was going very well and he was enjoying. Unfortunately, he was still in the trial stages. The fear that surrounding this person who has always worked and tried to pay his way but struggles week anger week month after month to pay his bills. He is in arrears with his rent and struggling to pay his council tax. He comes in every week to eat a meal as he struggles to pay for food and his bills. Usually due to working he is unable to access the wonderful services of the Foodbank. Many clients are teetering on the edge all the time, emotionally, housing, job and physically.  We help liaise with Sovereign and The Council Tax Department by going with people to appointments when we can. 

There is also a drop-in service for Sovereign Housing rent arrears and issues on a Tuesday 10-12pm at their offices 90 Bartholomew Street Newbury. 

Our drop-in services are on a Wednesday from 2-4pm providing Community Nurses and Community Dentists.