Drug services are failing to provide integrated support for
problem drug users, an Audit Commission report has found,
writes Maria Ahmed.
A focus on treating clinical addiction has led to the neglect of
a wider range of support, including housing provision, the report
It highlighted that one in three drug users are homeless or in need
of housing support and are likely to have mental health problems.
Users also have difficulty accessing benefits and a range of
services to support a more stable lifestyle.
The report showed that 34 per cent of drug users leaving
treatment drop-out within the first 12 weeks, losing contact with
Chair of the Audit Commission James Strachan said:
“Primary care trusts and local health boards, local
authorities, the police and other criminal justice agencies must
work more effectively to ensure the support and treatment they
provide matches the complex and different needs that many problem
drug users have. It is time to treat the person, not the drug
Home secretary David Blunkett has also announced that more drug
users who commit crime to pay for their habit will face the threat
of jail if they do not consent to treatment.
The ‘restriction on bail’ programme, which has been
piloted since May, gives courts powers to order drug assessment and
treatment as conditions of bail.
The scheme is now to be extended to up to 39 new Drug Action
Team areas by April next year.