AN ADDICTION treatment facility fears a lack of government advice for drug-users during lockdown could have a catastrophic result.

The Recovery Lighthouse in Worthing warned that there could be a “bottleneck” of people looking for support once lockdown was lifted, leading to fatalities when this could not be provided.

Nuno Albuquerque, treatment lead for the UK Addiction Treatment Group, which operates Recovery Lighthouse, said the group was expecting a “rush” of clients once lockdown was lifted.

And, with some having gone without help for several months, he warned their dependency was likely to have worsened.

The centre has treated 53 clients since the first confirmed case of coronavirus in the UK... a figure which was 20 per cent higher than the year before.

Through thorough preparations, it was able to remain open and continue to offer its services throughout the pandemic.

Without this support, “addicts may have continued their addiction at home, significantly increasing the chances of putting strain on local ambulance and NHS hospitals during the peak of the pandemic,” a spokesman for the centre said.

But The Recovery Lighthouse chiefs believe they had seen more clients this year than at the start of 2019 due to the Government’s “chosen silence” over what support services were still available to addicts during lockdown.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to successfully treating someone with an addiction,” said Mr Albuquerque.

“As soon as an addict asks for help, help needs to be provided.

“They cannot wait until lockdown is lifted.

“This is why it was crucial for us to ensure our rehab remained open and able to admit clients across West Sussex during the crisis, and by acting swiftly we were able to keep all clients and staff safe during this incredibly difficult time.

“The Government chose to remain silent when it came to people suffering with addiction;.

“They chose to not encourage getting the help they desperately needed and so we fully expect a rush of clients seeking treatment once lockdown is over.

“This is a dangerous approach to take, as in the last four months, their dependency will have worsened and for some, the delay in getting treatment may well have been fatal. Addiction doesn’t stop because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, and so neither could we.”

The first confirmed coronavirus case in the UK was recorded in York on January 31.

The Recovery Lighthouse immediately made “drastic operational changes” at its facility to counter for this.

A Covid Crisis Management Team was formed and a spokesman said that, “by working proactively, the rehab remained open, operational and covid-free, continuing to treat addicts from West Sussex and the surrounding areas who most desperately need it”.

Recovery Lighthouse also launched online group aftercare programmes which were made available to clients who left treatment during the lockdown, offering regular interactions with therapists.

• The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. To donate visit