Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2019 - Page 7

reports, pictures and videos: www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘There is no place for a drug user to engage from a policy point of view – people who don’t want to use services.’ Stephen Malloy health challenges presenting with substance misuse challenges and I know we could do more for them in one place, but we have to move them on.’ What was needed were integrated services that could do more for clients in the same place, he stated. ‘We support people with complex needs, that’s the issue, and we need to do that in a way that’s both integrated and that responds to the simple fact that we’re working with people at the sharp end of the inverse care law – that those in need of health and social care the most tend to get it the least. We have to keep moving forward because, frankly, we have no choice. Your professionalism and your understanding of substance misuse is done on behalf of the people who aren’t in this room, and we have to work together like never before. We don’t have a choice but to keep on moving.’ T he numbers of people accessing alcohol treatment had fallen by 19 per cent over three years, Public Health England’s (PHE) director of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, Rosanna O’Connor told delegates – from 65,000 to just over 52,000. This was compared to only a 5 per cent fall in numbers entering treatment for other substances. ‘It’s a significant fall and one we’re taking a lot of notice of. Only one in five of those who need treatment for their alcohol use are actually getting it,’ she said, and that trend would continue unless local areas ensured that their strategic and commissioning plans, service specifications and referral pathways were able to meet the need. Nearly all services were now commissioned as drug and alcohol services together, she said. ‘There’s something about the way those services are operating that appears to make it more difficult for people to get in if they have an alcohol problem.’ PHE would be distributing £6m next year, with a focus on asking local authorities to develop and deliver plans for improving access to alcohol treatment. Homelessness had also become an ‘alarmingly obvious’ and visible problem, she said, with the numbers of rough sleepers in England up by 165 per cent since 2010, and more than half of all deaths of homeless people the result of drugs. ‘We are working very closely with other departments and with NHS England towards a vision of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and ending it by 2027.’ Mental health was another crucial issue, with up to 70 per cent of drug service users and 86 per cent of alcohol services users experiencing mental health problems. Information on whether a person starting treatment had reported a www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘it’s important that your voice is heard and helps to shape policy and practice in the future. it’s important... that we have opportunities to listen and learn from you. i can only half do my job if i’m not being influenced by what are your real experiences.’ mental health need was now being recorded for the first time, she said, and PHE had published guidance on better care for people with co-occurring mental health and alcohol and drug use conditions. ‘We know there’s a gap and we’re working with government partners on how to close that gap,’ she said. ‘It’s obvious that we should be working better together to reduce harm and enhance recovery.’ While smoking prevalence in England was now very low, at around 15 per cent, among people with mental health problems it was three times rosAnnA o’connor that, while 59 per cent of opiate clients were smokers when they started treatment. ‘There’s a myth that it’s impossible to address someone’s smoking if you’re also addressing their drug and alcohol use. We are supporting the development of effective treatment programmes to help people in drug and alcohol services to stop smoking.’ Drug-related deaths remained high, she said, and many were among people in their 40s and 50s. Heroin-related deaths ‘not surprisingly’ continued to make up the largest proportion, with the highest rates in the North East and Yorkshire and Humber. PHE had published guidance and tailored support to what was happening at local level, she said. ‘A lot of these drug-related deaths are of people who aren’t in treatment – reaching out to these people is something that we should all be doing.’ March 2019 | drinkanddrugsnews | 7