PLANS to tackle drug and alcohol misuse in Reading, over the next four years, are set for endorsement this week.
A report, going before the Council’s Policy Committee today, Monday 24th September, 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.
The report seeks endorsement for the Council’s draft ‘Drug and Alcohol Strategy for Adults and Young People ’ for 2018-2022.
The ‘Drug and Alcohol Strategy for Adults and Young People’, is intended to set out the Council’s broad vision in terms of what actions are required to put in place a sustainable treatment support system for drug and alcohol use in Reading.
The focus is on a health and social care approach that joins up the different services provided across all partners, which will benefit individuals, families and society.
The strategy sets out three key priorities of prevention, treatment and enforcement:
· Priority 1 – Prevention: Reducing the amount of alcohol people drink to safer levels & reducing drug related harm;
· Priority 2 – Treatment: Commissioning and delivering high quality drug and alcohol treatment systems;
· Priority 3 – Enforcement & Regulation: Tackling alcohol and drug related crime and anti-social behaviour.
In early 2018, the Council consulted with the wider public as to whether they agreed with these three priorities. In total 91 responses were received and the public were largely supportive of the three priorities set out in the strategy.
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.”
Cllr Hoskin added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their invaluable contributions to the development of this strategy, including the feedback we received during our public consultation earlier this year. We believe the strategy is focused on the right priorities to deliver results and the next step for us, following approval, is to develop the action plan.”
The strategy will also go before the Health and Wellbeing Board on 12th October. Once the strategy has been approved, the Council will progress with developing an action plan and the development of the service.
The full report and strategy can be viewed here: www.reading.gov.uk/article/11444/Policy-Committee-24-SEP-2018
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