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On the eve of the publication of the second part of the Carol Black review , delegates at a Westminster Social Policy Forum event debated the state of the sector and where we go from here . DDN reports
People with drug dependency were ‘ almost the equivalent of the cast-out lepers of former times ,’ Professor Dame Carol Black told the told the Westminster Social Policy Forum ’ s Tackling drug addiction and substance misuse – latest thinking on prevention , supporting recovery , policy and findings of the independent review event ( see news , page 4 ).
Drug dependency was a ‘ complex , stigmatised problem ’, she said . ‘ Those dependent on drugs are not owned by any one department of state . You might say it ’ s too messy , too difficult , while at the same time of course creating personal , familial and societal misery and costing the government , we calculated , some £ 19bn per year .’
FAILING SYSTEM Part one of the review had addressed supply and demand ( DDN , March 2020 , page 4 ), revealing a ‘ failing ’ system and increasing levels of drug supply , county lines activity and violence – a ‘ dire situation ’ that had then ‘ met austerity ’. Since 2014 there had been a 17 per cent fall in funding for adult drug services and a 25 per cent fall for young people ’ s services . ‘ And in a few areas of the country , that fall for adult services has been as much as 40 per cent .’
There was ‘ obviously a lot to do ’, she stated . ‘ This is a report about system change , and reflects the fact that drug dependency has never been tackled in a determined and coordinated way by six departments of state ’ – the Department of Health and Social Care , Home Office , Department for Work and Pensions , Ministry of Justice , Department for Education and Ministry of Housing , Communities and Local Government . Rather it was each department trying to do a small amount but not in a way that was joined up , she said .
‘ I spent many hours talking to people who are drug-dependent , and they tell you what they need to achieve recovery . Medicine is part of this , but then so much is jobs , friends and housing . I also want to ensure that thriving communities of recovery are a component of every drug treatment system , and this needs to be country-wide . People with lived experience offer so much to the recovery journey that clinicians are simply not equipped to do .’
SUPPORT AND ENGAGEMENT There were multiple ways that people in recovery contributed , but a critical one was creating and leading support organisations , said advisor to the review , professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and former drug policy advisor to Barack Obama , Dr Keith Humphreys ( DDN , June 2012 , page 16 ). ‘ For most people , this is the work of years , which means there ’ s a need for organisations that persist in people ’ s lives and engage with them for a long time .’
Talking about recovery was the ‘ exciting , positive , happy thing that happens in this field ’, when so much discussion was around issues like illness , violence and death , he said . ‘ It ’ s not just “ I ’ m no longer using heroin ”, but “ I have a job , I ’ m back together with my family , I feel valued , I feel I ’ m contributing .” Those things take a long time to develop , but are critically important
‘ It ’ s very important that people in recovery are at the table in all discussions ... We need that expertise and that wisdom .’
DR KEITH HUMPHREYS
for health and quality of life .’
Recovery organisations had a different rationale for what made someone an expert , he said . ‘ The helping is reciprocal . When a doctor sees a patient it ’ s not appropriate to ask the patient for help with the doctor ’ s problems , but in these organisations one moment you can be the helper and in the next the helpee . One of the interesting https :// news . stanford . edu
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