A LEADING service for those with serious drug and alcohol problems is expanding.

The Tunstall Unit, in Sunderland, which provides residential care for people from the North-East and beyond, is growing to meet the increasing demands for detoxification and rehabilitation.

It is working with the National Care Standards Commission to ensure its capacity is increased quickly and that it avoids unreasonable delays in treatment.

Mick Davies, general manager of the unit, said: "In recent months, we have found that changes to the way health and social services agencies are planning services for problem drinkers and drug users has made it much easier for those in need to access specialist facilities such as ours."

Since opening in 1998, the unit has treated 500 people.

It aims to increase its admissions with more beds and reducing waiting times to a maximum of two weeks