Substance Misuse

Substance misuse includes both drugs and alcohol it affects not only the individual, but their family, friends, and the wider community.

Our aim

To reduce the harms from alcohol and substance misuse, support the recovery community, reduce the availability of low-cost, high strength alcohol, use licensing powers to promote the responsible drinking, improve outcomes for people with complex needs (toxic trio – mental health, substance misuse, domestic abuse). This work is also reflected in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

Why this is a priority

Drug and alcohol misuse remains a significant driver for acquisitive and violent crime in the evening economy. There are also links to adverse childhood experiences.

The cost of substance misuse is far-reaching, including not only financial costs, substance misuse is widely recognised as a driver for anti-social behaviour and crime. It is also linked to a number of poor outcomes for adults and young people, in particular poor health and social problems such as unemployment, homelessness and poverty.

Portsmouth suffers more alcohol-related harm than the England-average across a range of measures, including alcohol-related deaths.

Portsmouth has a higher rate of opiate and crack cocaine users than the national estimated average and one of the highest rates of drug-related deaths in England.

While drug offences and drug-related offences only account for a small volume of total crime, this type of crime can be particularly harmful and is often linked to other crimes of exploitation such as modern slavery, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults. The annual reports from Portsmouth Safeguarding Boards for children and adults pick up the majority of work to combat these types of crime.

What we know  

  • For every £1 spent on young people’s drug and alcohol treatment there is a lifetime benefit of £5- £8. 
  • For every £1 spent on adult treatment £2.50 is saved in crime and NHS costs

However, in Portsmouth there has also been an overall decline in the numbers of people in drug treatment services, (particularly those aged 18-24years), which may be linked to reductions in service capacity.

Analysis of these deaths showed that in addition to the illicit drugs which contributed to a number of deaths, a high percentage also involved prescribed opiates and benzodiazepines. This has highlighted a gap in support available for those addicted to prescribed medicines, which the substance misuse service does not currently have the capacity to provide.

What will we prioritise in the next two years:

  • Work more closely with Southampton and across Hampshire to share learning and best practice
  • Update our alcohol needs assessment
  • Whilst maintaining a focus on recovery, increase our focus on  harm reduction approaches which are evidence based to improve outcomes and save lives.
  • Continue to support Safe Space in the Guildhall Walk
  • Work with partners to ensure best practice within licensed premises and the evening and late night economy to reduce crime
  • Work together to address drug related crime
  • Understand more about the increasing numbers of drug related deaths
  • Provide support and low threshold prescribing to drug users most at
    risk of overdose and drug related death
  • Provide Naloxone, the heroin antidote, to a range of settings, including a scheme to distribute through pharmacies
  • Improve joined-up/multi-agency working, particularly to engage the most complex/vulnerable/challenging people to meet their treatment and support needs and reduce risks to themselves and others
  • Make better use of buildings and develop co-location of services
  • Public Health to deliver population level behaviour change
  • Develop the Drug and Alcohol Support Service (DASS) for young
    people in need of support with substance misuse
  • Personal, Social, Health Education (PSHE ) Officer (new post) based
    in Public Health Team, will work with schools to deliver high quality
    support, guidance and advice to primary, secondary and special
  • Develop resources and materials which support the personal and
    health development of young people in schools and other settings
  • Re-establish and lead the PSHE school leads network
  • Develop a PSHE traded service for schools
  • Explore options to provide targeted early support to young people
    identified as at high risk of exploitation

This work is also reflected in the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

Do you need support?

Call the Recovery Hub on 023 9275 1617 for access to drug and alcohol support.

More information

The National Drug Strategy