change, grow, live – health and social care charity

CGL response to the 2017 Drug Strategy

Friday 14th July, 2017

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Change, grow, live (CGL) welcomes the new drug strategy introduced today by Amber Rudd. Since the 1990s the investment into, and delivery of treatment has increased significantly and we hope this will continue. This investment has contributed to many thousands of people receiving high quality treatment and recovering from their addictions. We have also seen huge reductions in drug related crimes and other harms.

Read Mike Pattinson's summary of the key messages from the 2017 Drug Strategy

We welcome the fact that the Home Secretary is to have direct involvement in overseeing the roll-out of the new Strategy and will directly chair an inter-ministerial group ensuring that the aims and benefits of treatment are understood and owned across Government.

We have a treatment system in the UK that is often considered to be world leading and we welcome the consistency in approach that the new strategy brings, its focus upon a system that balances the reduction in harm with long term abstinence, that focuses investment on those most at risk, that is rooted in clinical evidence of effectiveness and which also promotes those measures that we know have transformative impacts upon our service users: employment, skills and housing.

If substance misuse is going to be tackled, there needs to be cooperation between a number of Government Ministries and Local Government Departments including health, justice, employment and children’s services. Drug treatment is a complex issue that requires the correct level of attention and emphasis on both recovery and harm reduction.

The renewed focus on drug related deaths is encouraging. We have been working on a number of prevention techniques to reduce the number of drug related deaths, including identifying and predicting those people who are most at risk of overdose, and it is vital this continues.

A renewed focus upon tackling the specific problems facing our prison system and the prisoner population as a result of new patterns of drug use and supply is also to be welcomed.

Drug use affects families and communities across the country and we will be working tirelessly to promote the benefits of treatment, to reduce the unfair stigma often faced by our service users and are committed to ensuring that all agencies pool their resources and expertise to generate long term benefits.

Whilst we welcome the focus on alcohol abuse, it is disappointing to see it treated as a subset of this long-awaited drug strategy. There is a  lack of concrete strategy on mental health, dual diagnosis or joining up systems to treat those who need it, as the responsibility instead falls to local authorities to agree this approach. These are all factors which can play a part in substance misuse, and how it is treated, and we would look for clear national direction to effectively tackle these issues as a whole.

Although this strategy is encouraging, it is essential that all of these proposals are supported with relevant funding and investment. Everyone should have the best chance in life, but we are only able to continue our work to support these people with adequate support and investment.

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