Charities urge government to target and tailor alcohol treatment services

Alcohol treatment services need to be both mainstream and tailored
according to age, ethnicity and other specialist needs, the
government was told this week.

As the consultation period for the national alcohol harm reduction
strategy closed, alcohol misuse organisations warned the government
in their submissions that existing services were both too sparse
and too general.

Substance misuse charity Turning Point said that people who misused
alcohol needed the support of both mainstream and specialist
services, and that treatment had to take account of a whole range
of factors, including culture.

“We need a person-centred approach to planning that starts with the
individual and reflects their needs, rather than the priorities of
services, and covers issues such as mainstream funding for housing,
education and employment. People should not be expected to simply
fit in with existing services”.

In its submission, the charity says it is “crucial” for the
strategy to focus on meeting the particular needs of people from
minority ethnic communities, where drinking patterns tend to be
less visible and problems underestimated by existing services.

Turning Point also suggests that older people and young people need
age-specific treatment which has been tailored to meet their needs.

Warning that individuals with a dual diagnosis of mental illness
and substance misuse often “fall between two stools with neither
agency willing to take the lead”, the charity also recommends a
multi-agency approach to the commissioning and delivery of

The charity is also calling for a number of structural changes,
including the expansion of the National Treatment Agency’s role to
include alcohol, and for alcohol services to come under the remit
of drug action teams.

Richard Kramer, Turning Point’s head of policy, insisted that the
final alcohol strategy, expected this summer, needed to be
all-encompassing, and not prioritise binge drinking over people who
are dependent drinkers in need of longer term treatment.

Meanwhile Alcohol Concern’s submission calls for better
coordination locally and nationally, and for a cabinet level
minister to be responsible for policy on alcohol misuse. In
addition the charity wants information about alcohol to be
available outside specialist settings, such as in doctors’

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