Following the release of the 2017 UK drug strategy there was much criticism of the lack of bravery or willingness on behalf of the Conservative Government to try any more sensible, evidence based or honest approaches to tackling the issues associated with problematic drug use. As gnarly old public health practitioner and former substance misuse worker with a background in both adult and under 18’s services it was no great surprise that the strategy only gave the most tertiary and fleeting mention to young people; after all; we are used to being an afterthought despite it being my longstanding belief that the spend is weighted the wrong way round and much greater gains would be made by spending the bulk of drug budgets on young peoples services. Recreational and non-problematic drug use is also given little attention and the one mention of ‘harm reduction’ is used in relation to the use of tobacco. It would appear that ‘recovery’ is still the one and only goal despite the alarming (yet predictable) increase in drug related death rates published just last month.
The one welcome addition to the strategy was the reference to a commitment around a preventative approach across the life course that utilises the Healthy Child Programme as a framework for delivery. The funding of Mentor-Adepis as a source of evidence-based information and tools for alcohol and drug education and prevention for schools is to be celebrated as for those of us who have worked with schools around substance misuse education and prevention have all too often seen the delivery of the ‘scare tactics’ and potentially harmful programmes that the 2017 strategy makes reference to and seeks to guide education settings away from.
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