£267 million to boost local drug and alcohol treatment

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Every local authority across England to be allocated additional funding to help combat drug and alcohol misuse

  • Funding will boost treatment, helping to cut crime 
  • Part of government’s landmark 10-year drug strategy to improve quality and access of drug and alcohol treatment by reducing drug use to a 30-year low 

Local authorities across England will benefit from almost £267 million of government funding next year to improve drug and alcohol treatment and recovery services.

The funding, which will be rolled out in April 2024, will enable local authorities to:

  • recruit more specialised staff to work with people with drug and alcohol problems
  • support more prison leavers into treatment and recovery services
  • help reduce crime by increasing the number of people receiving structured drug and alcohol treatment, as well as improving the quality of treatment provided, which in turn helps make streets safer by getting people out of drug use addictions which is known to drive offending

Health Minister Neil O’Brien said:

“Drug addiction drives about half of all crimes, so by investing in high quality and greater availability of treatment we can reduce crime rates and save lives.

We aim to raise the number of people getting drug and alcohol treatment to a record high by investing through the long term investment we’ve been making over the last three years.

Today’s allocations will see £267 million go directly to local authorities and their partners to improve services, increase capacity and quality of treatment and recovery systems, and is based on the recommendations made by Dame Carol Black in her independent review.”

More people will benefit from residential rehabilitation or inpatient detoxification, while improvements to the recovery services will sustain people’s treatment and help to reduce relapse rates.

This funding is in addition to £95.4 million made available in 2022 to 2023 and £154.3 million for this year – with an overall additional investment of £421 million into drug and alcohol treatment since April 2022.

From Harm to Hope, published in December 2021, sets out the government’s 10-year ambition to ensure as many people as possible can get the treatment they need by significantly increasing the number of treatment places and recovery services.

Over the first three years of the strategy, the additional investment in treatment and recovery will help prevent nearly 1,000 drug-related deaths – reversing the upward trend in drug deaths for the first time in a decade.

The strategy also sets out that illegal drug use such as heroin and crack addiction are connected to half of all homicides, and nearly half of all burglaries, robberies and other acquisitive crimes. Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs found the best way to tackle this issue is by boosting the capacity of the treatment and recovery system.

Professor Dame Carol Black, independent adviser to the government on combating drug misuse, said:

“A key aim of my report was to make sure vulnerable people with substance misuse problems can access the support and tools needed to recover and lead full lives.

Today’s allocations of almost £267 will go directly to local authorities and their partners, meaning they can deliver treatment that is tailored to meet local needs.

The end goal is to get many people into world-class recovery and treatment system, reduce drug use and drug related crime – and ultimately save lives.”

Delivering quality treatment provision is core to recovery, and in addition to this significant investment additional grant funding has gone into accommodation and employment support.

The government’s work to clamp down on criminal gangs profiting from the trade in illegal drugs is backed by £300 million investment (over three years). Since the County Lines Programme was launched in 2019, police activity has resulted in over 4,700 lines closed, 14,800 arrests, and 7,200 safeguarding referrals.

Examples of the work supported in 2023 to 2024 include:

  • Lancashire launching a specific service to support women affected by problem alcohol and drug use who are engaged in the criminal justice system. This included targeted support within police custody suites, enhanced support to help women engage in treatment and provide safe spaces for women to access mental health support. 
  • Halton further strengthening its investment in its recovery support services and recovery community, including the expansion of their Recovery Café in Widnes – a service user and volunteer led initiative in Widnes, which supports people in their recovery. 
  • In Devon, the local authorities expanding their early support response to young people who have been identified with co-occurring substance use and mental ill health through providing a seven-day week service. Targeted key workers and a specialist nurses will provide rapid assessment of young people admitted to hospital and expediate access to alcohol and drug treatment. 
  • Hartlepool establishing a non-fatal overdose (NFO) team to improve service response to people vulnerable to death.  This specialist team proactively engage the community of people identified at higher risk of overdose, as well as accepting referrals for people who have recently experienced an NFO.  The team offer brief, intensive, interventions aiming to reduce the risk of repeated overdose.   

This funding is prioritised for areas with the highest need, based on the rate of drug deaths, deprivation, opiate and crack cocaine prevalence and crime, considering of the size of the treatment population.

Alice Wiseman, Policy Lead for Addiction at the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) said:

“At a local level, Directors of Public Health and their teams work together with a range of services, including amazing organisations and people from the voluntary and community sector, to deliver effective, life changing drug and alcohol treatment services.

As well as supporting people to overcome addiction, the programmes we support really empower people by listening to those with lived experience to shape treatment so that it makes a difference not only to individuals, but to the whole community.

We know this work is incredibly valuable, both for individuals and communities, but it does require the long-term commitment of this ten-year strategy. The extra funding announced today is very welcome and will enable us to support more people in this way.”

Treatment will be available for a wide range of substances, including heroin, crack, powder cocaine, ecstasy, and cannabis – the latter remaining the most common substance (87%) for which young people receive treatment.

This investment should have clear links to support the plans from Combating Drugs Partnerships on how it will reduce drug-related crime, including improving access and take up of quality treatment for those dependent on Opiate and Crack Cocaine.

To support this, the government has targeted work across the criminal justice system to increase referrals, including a new police-led referrals into treatment plan, led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and supported by the Home Office and Department of Health and Social Care.


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