The government has been urged to improve the status and training of
staff who work with drug misusers in a bid to tackle recruitment
and retention problems.
A report by social care charity Turning Point, released this week,
calls for better rewards, personal development and career
progression for staff, and improved public standing for the
It estimates there is a shortfall of at least 3,000 staff with
specialist knowledge in the management of drug misusers. Shortfalls
are greatest among those working with young people, women,
families, people with mental health problems and ethnic minorities,
Calling for tackling drug misuse to be central to a broader social
agenda, the report highlights demands for more training from social
workers, housing officers and mental health workers.
The report stresses the need for a “shared level of skills and
knowledge across all professions and mainstream agencies that come
into contact and work with drug misusers”. Staff should be aware of
what services exist locally, referral pathways, and joint working,
All staff should be able to link up with hard-to-reach groups, such
as ex-prisoners, homeless people and those with additional mental
health problems, it says.
While the criminal justice system has an important role to play in
channelling drug users into treatment, it warns that these
initiatives should not be prioritised over providing treatment in
the community, which may prevent drug users from committing a crime
in the first place.
The report was written in consultation with 12 other organisations
including rehabilitation agency Nacro, the National Housing
Federation, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the
Association of Directors of Social Services.
Turning Point and mental health charity Rethink have also produced
a dual-diagnosis toolkit on the relationship between mental health
and problematic substance misuse for practitioners.
– Mainstreaming the Drugs Strategy and Dual Diagnosis
Toolkit from www.turning-point.co.uk