Bexley specialist doctor hooked on helping people kick the habits
Dr Neil Santamaria lends two days a week to Signpost in Erith, helping people in Bexley cope with their addictions.
Q What should recovering alcoholics and addicts do if they are feeling vulnerable this Christmas?
A Christmas is widely acknowledged as a time when families get together. The support of loved-ones is important, especially during the festive season.
If you feel like you may relapse or you think you are suffering from drug or alcohol addition this Christmas, call Signpost on 01322 357940 or visit the Erith Health Centre on Pier Road.
We are not open on the bank holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day), so you can call Alcoholics Anonymous on 0845 769 7555 or pop into the 24-hour walk-in surgery in Crayford Road, Crayford.
If you’re feeling really depressed, then please call the Bexley and Dartford branch of the Samaritans on 0208 301 1010. You’re never alone.
Q Do you notice any trends in relapses over the festive period?
A The temptation can be very high at this time of year and it’s highly likely addicts will relapse but there is support to avoid that happening.
The patients need to come with some motivation to sort their addiction and there’s often a spike just after the Christmas period.
Q Tell us more about the work Signpost do?
A There are many more than one person on the journey – it isn’t just the addict, it’s also the family, friends, GP, support worker and so on.
We try and make sure we don’t have a waiting list at Bexley so we can assess someone’s position straight away when they come to us – are they unemployed, working, with a family, single?
We consider whether they can maintain the status quo and if they’re likely to relapse.
But it’s a two-way street – we expect honesty. We expect patients to relapse and they need to have confidence that we will be there to support them so they don’t feel as if they’re falling off the cliff.
Basically, there will always be support, advice and help available if people need it.