National charity welcomes new Home Office Drug Strategy

08 December 2010

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, welcomes today’s publication of the 2010 HMG Drug Strategy and is pleased to see the new coalition Government is addressing this important area so quickly – but it argues strongly that the Government could be more ambitious and that local communities also have a vital role to play.

Responding to the Home Office’s publication of the Drug Strategy, Swanswell’s Chief Executive Debbie Bannigan said: ‘While the new drug strategy addresses some important issues, and claims to be ambitious, Swanswell would ask if it goes far enough. The stated ambition to reduce demand, restrict supply and support and achieve recovery is good – but can’t we expect much better?

Swanswell challenges the coalition to have the courage to see a future where problem substance misuse is eliminated altogether, and to set ambitions accordingly.

'If that seems unrealistic, that may be because the approach to substance misuse set out in the new strategy remains focused on individuals  solutions need to be holistic and centred around each individual, with the expectation that full recovery is possible and desirable.’

As an organisation that helps thousands of people every year to address their substance misuse problems, we know that a systemic approach is much more likely to achieve results and recovery.

'Helping an individual to recover without changing the environment that turns a blind eye, tolerates, and encourages, if not promotes, substance misuse results in an acceptance that substance misuse will always be with us.

So we would ask: isn’t it time for a vision of neighbourhoods, areas, regions and – ultimately – society free of problem substance misuse? We’d therefore like to encourage Theresa May to be more ambitious and strive for changes that impact on, but also go beyond the individual, and help communities to ‘recover’.

This isn’t a job that can be delegated to government, even at the local level. Swanswell believes that eliminating problem substance misuse needs to be everyone’s concern and everyone’s responsibility.

'Communities must play an active role and change the way drug misuse impacts on the lives of their members - creating positive environments where people deal with issues at a localised level from supply to trading and demand to availability and access to treatment and recovery.

So we’d like to encourage the Home Secretary to go further and set out ‘Big Ambition’ in this important area – then really mobilise the ‘Big Society’ to make it happen.’

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