Illicit drugs and public health in 2012

Document type
Corporate author(s)
UK Drug Policy Commission
UK Drug Policy Commission
Date of publication
1 February 2012
Substance Misuse
Social welfare
Material type

Download (107KB )

The local and national context for addressing the problems associated with illicit drugs is changing. This paper sets out some of the issues and challenges for the delivery of drug interventions in the new public health system.

The positioning of the responsibility for drug interventions within public health departments in local authorities is generally welcome and provides the opportunity for greater focus on prevention and early intervention, as well as improved integration with services, such as employment and housing, which are often key to recovery from drug problems.

However, there are risks as well. The past ten years saw a big expansion in funding for drug treatment alongside the development of a strong partnership focus. The benefits can be seen in the reductions in waiting times for treatment, increased availability of treatment for a wider range of drug problems, and the stabilisation in the number of people with severe drug problems. The recent increased focus on recovery and the increase in peer involvement in treatment and support has been a further positive development. While some rebalancing of resources, particularly towards greater integration of treatment for alcohol and drug dependence, is likely to be of benefit, it is important that this is not done in such a way as to jeopardise the gains made in tackling drug problems. As the new structures emerge and new partnerships develop, it is also important that the essential partnerships with police and criminal justice agencies, and with mental health and primary care providers, are maintained

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