SMMGP welcomes many of the Drug Strategy’s ambitions including:
- The emphasis on the importance of an evidence-based approach
- The recognition of the importance of providing holistic services for those with complex needs
- The importance of partnership working across a range of services, including housing, employment and mental health
- Support for work with families
- The importance of strong commissioning
However, it is difficult to remain positive about achieving many of the Strategy’s good intentions working within the reality of the sustained and ongoing cuts to the drug and alcohol sector and the public and voluntary services in general.
One of the most concerning issues for those who work in the field in recent years is the rise in drug-related deaths in the UK. Whilst this matter is raised in the new Drug Strategy, there appears to be an absence of support for evidence-based approaches to address this (for example drug consumption rooms, or consideration of decriminalisation of possession or use of drugs, or how to reach people who are not in treatment through for example harm reduction initiatives). There is also an ongoing focus on the pursuit of abstinence without mention of the essential role that harm reduction fulfils in reducing drug-related deaths. So SMMGP believes that while the Drug Strategy’s ambitions are good, it frustratingly does not provide a realistic direction for how they will be delivered.