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 has the second highest rate of drug-related deaths in the South East, behind Brighton and Hove (10.2 per 100,000) Portsmouth is significantly higher than both the England rate (4.7 per 100,000) and the South East rate (3.9, per 100,000).

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.

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on people’s use of substances, particularly the consumption of alcohol, with the lockdown in March 2020 causing significant disruption to people’s lives. Drug and alcohol services adapted their processes to continue to provide a service throughout the pandemic. Despite this, there has been a reduction in new pretentions to services, particularly alcohol clients. This reduction is unlikely a reflection of need, but more of a result of the challenges bought about by the pandemic, such as support being provided online, which would not be suitable for everyone needing support. This is something that we will continue to monitor. 

Do you need support?

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

More information

Dame Carol Black was commissioned by the Home Office Department of Health and Social Care to undertake a 2-part independent review of drugs, to inform the government’s thinking on what more can be done to tackle the harm that drugs cause.

For part 1 of the review please click here and for part 2 please click here.

The National Drug Strategy