In Kristiansand, drug addicts with corona were forcibly admitted to the emergency psychiatric ward earlier this year. It created a lot of fear to test themselves in the environment, because they were afraid of ending up in the same situation, says activist and leader of Human Drug Policy Arild Knutsen.
He also says that several who tested positive felt badly treated elsewhere in the country, and the rumors spread quickly. People who stay in Oslo are also afraid of being sent home to other parts of the country, if they test positive.
– People who come from other municipalities are terrified of being tested. There are many rumors in Oslo, and it is important that people become aware that they will not be forcibly admitted if they test positive for corona. Most people get a good stay in isolation or in quarantine and a good medical offer, he says.
Knutsen fears hidden infection in the environment because people are reluctant to test themselves and hide symptoms. In addition, many say that they have much worse health problems as a result of abstinence because there is a drought in the market, and the concern for the corona can be perceived as remote compared to the situation they are in.
– I often ask people to test themselves and follow the infection control measures when I visit the various drug institutions in Oslo, because I am very worried about what will happen to them if they become infected. But I can quickly become the annoying guy you do not want to listen to.
[ Rusreformen: – Vi kan ikke gjemme oss vekk selv om vi er narkomane ]
Taken hold of Oslo
For a long time, the infection among drug addicts in Norway and the rest of the world was very low, but after the major outbreaks in the drug environments in London and Copenhagen, the concern grew. The Welfare Service in Oslo therefore opened up seven isolation unit places at Adamstuen care center. The offer is voluntary, for drug addicts in Oslo who do not have a permanent place to live. The agency operates 20 drug institutions in Oslo.
– There have been far more cases of infection this year than last year, but there has not been the big outbreak. We closely monitor and assess the infection situation from day to day, says department director for rust services and adapted housing in the Welfare Service, John Ingar Danielsen.
Since the mutant virus began to spread in the environment, they have consistently had people in isolation every day, but Danielsen says that they have always had good capacity, and have contingency plans ready if the situation should change for the worse. The Welfare Service supplements the districts’ TISK strategy (testing, isolating, tracing infections and quarantining residents) with a special responsibility for drug addicts who are without their own suitable housing.
[ «Fra straff til hjelp» ]
Do not know infection occurred in the ward
At the Prindsen reception center in central Oslo, Martin Greger, team leader for the Emergency Accommodation, says that they have not tracked a single case where employees have infected each other or residents, or where residents have infected other residents or employees. Most people who spend the night at Prindsen only have a decision of 1-3 nights, but they also have more who stay for 14 days and longer, pending their own and long-term accommodation.
– It is quite impressive in an emergency department where we distribute food to everyone in one kitchen and where eleven of fourteen residents share a bathroom.
All in all, two residents have had corona detected, according to Greger. Every year, Akuttovernattingen has 1,500 unique admissions.
– Our cleaners have worked as invisible heroes over the past year. They are highly competent, and we are incredibly dependent on them. They have made the place a safe place to stay for the residents, and a safe workplace for us employees.
Prindsen reception center has emergency accommodation, injection rooms and inhalation rooms. In addition, they have a field care, clean user equipment, various health services and call services. These are the measures they have taken to keep the infection down:
- People who need accommodation in the evening are referred from the emergency room and quickly tested before they arrive at Prindsen.
- Expanded food offer at Prindsen so residents do not have to go out to get food.
- Residents are offered face masks for use in common areas, and employees use face masks.
- Increased cleaning in addition to employees disinfecting offices and common areas.
Greger is very relieved that they have managed to keep the center safe and avoided infection, but also acknowledges that the infection control measures can be at the expense of the environmental therapeutic work.
– Some of our work has been lost. We can no longer sit in the residents’ rooms over time to participate in longer conversations with those who need it, he says.
[ «Hva om sønnen vår fikk hjelp?» ]
Better food creates a calmer environment
As usual, the residents of Prindsen only receive a packed lunch consisting of smeared slices of bread every night. During the pandemic, the reception center has had its food budget expanded and now offers all residents several meals a day from Fjordland, so they will not have to seek out other food offers and expose themselves to the risk of infection.
– We have learned a lot from the value of being able to offer a hot meal in the evening. It has become much calmer in the department. There is a big difference between a hot meal and a slice of bread, and people benefit from being fed – there is a much better atmosphere. We hope to be able to continue to offer this after the corona, says team leader at Akuttovernattingen Martin Greger.
Although the cleaners’ efforts have meant a lot, Greger points out that both the employees and the residents have solid experience in dealing with infection control routines, as other infectious diseases have always been widespread in the environment.
He also points out that although there are those in the environment who do not believe in corona, most people are aware that they may be at risk and have been very worried and cautious.
– Everyone who works in and uses the services of the Welfare Service should get a pat on the back. They have really made a good effort.
The case continues below the picture
[ Bymisjonen vil ha frisoner for omsetning av narkotika i Oslo ]
– Not suitable for everyone
Arild Knutsen praises the work the Welfare Service has done to prevent a major corona outbreak in the open drug environment in Oslo.
– My overall impression is that they have done an absolutely fantastic job during the corona pandemic. They have thrown themselves around and received a very good offer considering the framework they have, he says.
But he still points out that the insulation unit at Adamstuen is not suitable for everyone.
– Adamstuen is very nice for some of the heavier drug addicts in the open drug environment. But it’s a hospice. It is not suitable for everyone.
Arild Knutsen also experiences that some of those who contact him are afraid of what kind of treatment they will receive if they go to solitary confinement at Adamstuen. Knutsen does not think this is necessary.
– There are good professionals there, maybe some of the best. It is very good for those who are addicted to opiates as usual and need a place to be in isolation.
[ Det er et stykke fra Nisseberget i 1966 til Brugata 50 år etter ]
Want offers for amphetamine addicts
At the Adamstuen quarantine and isolation unit, the corona-infected health and social work follow-up. If necessary, abstinence-reducing treatment is given in collaboration with the specialist health service, says department director John Ingar Danielsen in the Welfare Service.
Those with opioid dependence – most often heroin – receive drug-assisted treatment (LAR). Arild Knutsen believes it is a big problem that amphetamine addicts do not receive offers that suit their addiction, such as ADHD medication. The same goes for pill addicts. Danielsen says that the choice of drugs is based on individual assessments and what is available within the LAR treatment.
– It is very unfortunate that it can not be offered, and it is very sad if amphetamine addicts are offered LAR and incur a new addiction, says Knutsen.
Knutsen generally believes that it would be better if drug addicts were offered medication so that they have the opportunity to stabilize and avoid having to cross municipal boundaries in search of drugs in a time when there is a drought in the market.
– If they can stabilize their drug addiction, they can participate in the charity event on an equal footing with you and me, he says.
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