Empowering Social Prescribing and Peer Support: A Proposed Therapeutic Alliance against Addiction and Substance Misuse within the Middle East
Author(s): Richard Mottershead* and Nafi Alonaizi
The authors propose that social prescribing is an empowering strategy to assist individuals to connect and thrive within their communities and supports improvements in their health and well-being. Whilst, social prescribing schemes have been developed within western healthcare systems for some decades and continue to gain popularity, there has been little evidence of its widespread use within the Middle East. This region has continued to be pre-dominantly focused on pharmaceutical interventions for individuals experiencing addiction and substance misuse and whilst it is acknowledged that there are enclaves throughout the region, these are not common practice.
A world shaped by a post-COVID-19 global economic crisis appears to have had detrimental effects on physical and mental health due to substance misuse and addictions. The use of social prescribing utilizes psychological and social factors rather than an overreliance on the bio-medical model which relies on biological interventions to treat addictions and substance use disorder. Firstly, the authors will advocate for a wider exploration of the use of social prescribing in order to create a holistic approach to combating the health and social care determinants of addictions and substance for the Middle Eastern region. The paper will demonstrate how the use of social prescribing could be used to reaffirm empowerment as a means of aiding people to become more independent of hospital institutions and current pharmaceutical interventions. Seminal work on empowerment and peer-support will be presented to create awareness on the challenges of establishing and promoting empowerment within entrenched bio-medical models of care. Secondly, the authors will remonstrate for a need to establish peer-support by empowering those with lived experiences of addictions and substance misuse issues to become members of the multi-disciplinary team to treat these conditions.