£267m to boost local drug and alcohol treatment

  • 29th November 2023

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


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

The funding, which will be rolled out in April, 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

Announcing the cash, 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 through the long-term investment we’ve been making over the last three years.

“Today’s allocations will see £267m 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 £95.4m made available in 2022-2023 and £154.3m for this year – with an overall additional investment of £421m into drug and alcohol treatment since April 2022.”

The investment comes two years after the Government published the From Harm to Hope strategy, which sets out the 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 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.

She 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 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.”

Examples of the work supported in 2023-2024 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 includes targeted support within police custody suites, enhanced support to help women engage in treatment, and providing 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 its Recovery Café in Widnes – a service user and volunteer-led initiative in Widnes, which supports people in their recovery
  • In Devon local authorities are 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-a-week service. Targeted key workers and 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 engages 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

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 10-year strategy.

“The extra funding 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.

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