Residents are encouraged to have a say on plans to tackle drug and alcohol misuse in Reading, over the next six years.
The Council is launching a consultation around the draft Drug and Alcohol Strategy for 2018-2022. The key focus of the strategy is to reduce the harm, or potential harm, that misusing drugs and alcohol has on the individual, families and the wider community.
The strategy sets out the need to ensure treatment services are available and accessible to support those who need them. It also highlights how education and information needs to be easily available.
There is a community-wide focus, including children, young people and adults – whether they are consuming alcohol or drugs themselves or they are affected by other people using these substances. It also puts building on partnership and cross-agency working at the heart of any future success.
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health, said: “Our vision is to reduce the harm misusing alcohol and drugs has on the individual, families and the wider community. We want to enable individuals affected by drug and alcohol misuse to recover with the help of all agencies in Reading.”
The strategy also puts a particular emphasis on alcohol misuse as far greater problem than drug use in Reading.
Cllr Hoskin, added: “In the face of mounting government cuts to the council’s health budget, now more than ever we need to focus our limited resources in the areas that will have the most impact. The sheer size of alcohol misuse should make it a priority and so this is where we believe we should be targeting our work, whilst continuing to offer support and interventions for drugs misuse.
“The early preventative treatment of alcohol and drug misuse will hopefully avoid damaging longer term dependency and ultimately prove much more efficient and effective.”
Recently published results show Reading’s drug and alcohol treatment teams are increasingly effective at helping people beat drug and alcohol addiction.
Cllr Hoskin praised the hard work of the Reading’s specialist drug and alcohol service: “These results are promising and we will hopefully build on this success with the help of a clear strategy to take us forward.
“I want to encourage as many people as possible to take part in this consultation. Let us know if you think our proposed strategy is heading in the right direction.”
The draft drug and alcohol strategy will be out for consultation from Wednesday 21st February until Monday 23rd April 2018 for members of the public to comment. Visit the Council’s consultation section at https://consult.reading.gov.uk or use the link www.reading.gov.uk/drugalcoholstrategy to take part in the consultation. For more information or to request a paper copy call 0118 937 3244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Drug and Alcohol Needs Assessment
In 2015 the Council carried out an extensive needs assessment to inform the proposed strategy.
The Council’s 2015 needs assessment identified that alcohol misuse, mainly in the adult population, is a far greater problem than drug use in Reading (as elsewhere) mainly because of the sheer number of people who drink alcohol in our society and the increasing proportion who do so in ways that risk injuring their health.
Based on national self-reported drinking levels against the current guidelines, it is estimated at least 30,000 residents drink at a level that could harm their health or wellbeing; Whilst 4,500 are drinking to levels that have already harmed their health.
The needs assessment also identified that whilst among younger age groups in their 20s and under 19, heroin use is decreasing, there are an increasing number of users in older age groups. Most users in Reading are in their 30s and 40s.
IRiS (Integrated Recovery in Services)
IRiS (Integrated Recovery in Services) is Reading’s specialist drug and alcohol service, available to anyone over the age of 18 who lives in Reading, and is experiencing difficulties with drugs and/or alcohol. The service is funded, regulated and supported by Reading Borough Council.
There are also services available for family members of drug and alcohol users who need support.
For those in treatment recently (not taking returns to treatment into account), compared to other similar authorities nationally, Reading was amongst those with the highest proportion of people completing treatment free of addiction for alcohol and drug treatment.
The Reading stats (January 2018) show above national average results, with 43% of clients completing alcohol treatment and 18.4% completing all drug treatment (8.7% of opiate users and 53.7% of non-opiate users) to become free of addiction and not returning to treatment within six months. This compares favourably with the national averages for alcohol (38.73%) and drugs (14.8%).
People can find out more on 0118 956 7441 (Mon–Fri 9am-5pm), or come to the Open Access clinic (Mon-Fri, 1pm–4pm). There is no need to book, people can just pop in for an informal chat. Find out more at www.irispartnership.org/services/reading