This chapter, written by a psychiatrist working with people with severe and complex addictions, sets the scene. We are provided with a graphic account of the multiple problems—physical, psychological, social, financial—of someone with severe drug addiction, where sex working and the risks of pregnancy, infection, and assault compound an already challenging presentation. The personal history of trauma and abuse means that the patient requires highly skilled and sensitive management, and adaptations in service provision—such as no morning appointments—that respect the individual’s lifestyle. The conflict for professionals is encapsulated in a brief description of the responses of Vanessa Crawford’s patient group when asked what messages they would like to be conveyed to future doctors: don’t prejudge us, treat us as individuals, give us proper pain control—and “don’t trust us”. Implicit in this is the recognition that they are in the grip of something that leads them to deceive, probably themselves, but also others—a wish to pervert a relationship to someone who is trying to help. Crawford conveys the importance of being knowledgeable, but not omniscient; of helping the individual to overcome the barrier of shame, which may lead to information being withheld; and the crucial contribution of a collaborative and coherent staff team in containing such challenging patients and in helping them to turn a corner towards recovery.
Series Editor's Preface -- Foreword -- Introduction -- Challenges in a substance misuse service -- Parental addiction and the impact on children -- Won't they just grow out of it? Binge drinking and the adolescent process -- A neglected field -- The deprivation of female drug addicts: a case for specialist treatment -- Flying a kite: psychopathy as a defence against psychosis—observations on dual (and triple) diagnosis -- Gambling: addicted to the game -- The nature of the addiction in "sex addiction" and paraphilias -- Anorexia nervosa: addiction or not an addiction? -- In search of a reliable container: staff supervision at a drug dependency unit