Alcohol is the most widely used mood-altering substance in the UK and consuming alcohol gives pleasure to people and economic benefit to economies. However, when used irresponsibly it can cause immense harm to users, their families, friends and communities. Alcohol is a priority for both health and community safety partners in Warwickshire, with a wide range of organisations having to deal with the often significant consequences of its misuse. Partnership work to reduce this harm is undertaken across three key themes:
- Education and prevention
- Treatment and aftercare
- Local enforcement of alcohol-related legislation
A Drugs and Alcohol Treatment Needs Assessment has recently been produced to help inform the future development of the Warwickshire Alcohol Implementation Plan. The assessment focuses on the alcohol related issues concerning the adult population in Warwickshire and covers:
- The current picture across a range of alcohol related issues including health and crime and disorder.
- Areas for further exploration including an analysis of the recovery needs of treatment clients in Warwickshire (conducted via a survey to treatment providers and practitioners).
- Conclusions and recommendations for future action.
What are the big issues?
- In 2011/12, there were 917 clients in treatment in Warwickshire where alcohol was their primary drug. This is down from 1,131 clients for the equivalent 2010/11 period, a reduction of 17.7%. There were 656 new presentations to treatment during the year, which represents 72% of the total treatment population.
- The headline indicator used to assess performance in reducing alcohol related harm is alcohol related hospital admissions. The County has seen a 1% fall in admissions in 2011/12 and within the County, Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick Districts have seen considerable falls from 2010/11 (7% and 3% reductions respectively). Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough continues to have the highest rate of alcohol related hospital admissions in the County and has seen a percentage increase over the past year in line with the regional and national averages.
- Mosaic is a customer insight tool which gives a comprehensive view of consumer demographic data. Warwickshire Drug and Alcohol Action Team can use the findings from the Mosaic analysis to effectively target messages in relation to alcohol and drug use and also use it to help raise awareness of The Recovery Partnership’sservices. A common feature of the households identified is the increased risk experienced by young people generally. Moreover, this risk appears evident among groups with different income levels. This would suggest that a more general message emerging from this analysis is the involvement of young people in the sort of behaviours which place them at greater risk from issues relating to drugs and alcohol.
- Consultation with treatment providers revealed that alcohol and drug treatment service users face barriers to successful recovery, with the highest concerns being the lack of affordable accommodation and the lack of suitable employment opportunities.
- Consultation with practitioners revealed a number of emerging issues relating to drug and alcohol misuse in the county. Significant areas of concern include alcohol pre-loading, increased methadone dependence, a significant rise in anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse caused by substance misuse and linking the increase in substance misuse to licensing times. However, these may have been as a result of the timing of the survey, as it was within six months of the new service commencing. These concerns will be monitored and the consultation should be re-run annually to see if attitudes and opinions have changed as the service has embedded. This will also allow subsequent issues (if applicable) to be raised.
What do people say?
A quesyion in the assessment survey asked if practitioners were seeing any emerging substance misuse issues in Warwickshire. A number of key issues have emerged based on their responses, relating to alcohol and/or drug use:
- Alcohol pre-loading before a night out
- Young people becoming more secretive about drug use as the anti-social behaviour (ASB) agenda has intensified
- Methadone dependence use has increased in the past twelve months often with no target end date
- Anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse caused by substance misuse have significantly increased
- The potential for dedicated workers in areas of high alcohol or drug usage
- Sharp rise in the number of alcohol and cannabis users, particularly amongst young women
- The increase in the misuse of alcohol is linked to licensing times
- The needs of children in households as a priority where there are drug and/or alcohol users
- Prevalent use of solvents in social groups of young people rather than solitary use
- Cannabis use is very high in North Warwickshire
What do we need to do?
- The Recovery Partnership to continue to take appropriate action to reduce the length of time clients spend in treatment by providing support to enable them to complete their recovery journey.
- Warwickshire treatment services to work towards Strang compliance.
- The Recovery Partnership to continue to establish outreach locations in suitable venues around the county, to ensure treatment services are accessible to as many residents as possible.
- The Recovery Partnership and ESH Works to continue to encourage service users to set up and improve existing recovery networks across Warwickshire, particularly in the north of the county.
- All partners to take into consideration feedback from the provider and practitioner surveys and barriers identified to the implementation of the recovery agenda that are relevant to their service.
- Note issues and barriers raised in the practitioner survey and undertake a follow up survey next year to see how or if things have improved.
- Recovery Asset thinking to be part of Warwickshire’s approach to client work going forward.
- Warwickshire DAAT and partners to focus the delivery of key messages about alcohol, including information about safe drinking and treatment services, towards target audiences across the County.
- Warwickshire DAAT and partners to develop appropriate delivery mechanisms to promote treatment services to a wider audience.
- The Recovery Forum to develop an action plan to take forward the messages from the service user consultation.
- Warwickshire DAAT to use the Mosaic analysis to target preventative messages to young people/adults in the County.
- Warwickshire DAAT to also use the previous Mosaic analysis carried out for the 2011/12 needs assessment to work with partners to effectively target messages in relation to alcohol use and help raise awareness of the new treatment service.
- Warwickshire DAAT to explore the possibility of assessing the client profile of the Recovery Partnership using Mosaic to enable messages about treatment services to be targeted more effectively.
- The Recovery Partnership and ESH Works to promote activities shown to aid recovery to all service users.
- Warwickshire DAAT to work with the University of Warwick Students’ Union to promote safe drinking messages to students, utilising appropriate delivery mechanisms.
- Warwickshire DAAT to pursue the survey of employers to better understand their needs and views on the subject of substance misuse in the workplace and employing ex-service users.
- The Recovery Partnership and Jobcentre Plus to review their joint working arrangements, with the aim of improving employment outcomes for drug and alcohol service users.
- Warwickshire DAAT to undertake or commission a detailed analysis of the barriers to accessing housing provision experienced by drug and alcohol treatment service users (similar in scope to the employment analysis undertaken in 2012).
Who needs to know?
- 5 x District and Borough Councils
- ESH Works (Service user and carer involvement service)
- JobCentre Plus
- NHS Warwickshire
- The Recovery Partnership
- Voluntary and community sector groups
- Warwickshire County Council
- Warwickshire Police
- Warwickshire Probation Trust
The full Warwickshire Drug and Alcohol Treatment Needs Assessment is available here:
Previous year’s document can also be accessed here:
For more detailed information on Alcohol Consumption in Warwickshire at Middle Super Output Area click on the interactive map button