Detox and rehabilitation facilities play an important role in support. A mixed model is emerging in a complex treatment landscape.

Grace* started using drugs at the age of nine. Growing up in London, she describes herself as a “street kid who struggled to get into the swing of life”, with drugs helping numb the pain of her difficult upbringing. Fast forward a few decades and Grace had moved to Cornwall. She was a mother, holding down a good job, but still using heavily. She describes it as “like spinning a hundred plates at once to try to stay sane, it was my dirty little secret, I wasn’t going to rehab.”

But eventually her secret got out. She started working with…


Women are underrepresented in drug support services and often experience significant barriers to accessing support. That’s why we’re researching what can be done to change this.

If you were to walk into a drug treatment service and eight people are sitting in the waiting area, the statistical likelihood is that six will be men.

According to the latest Public Health England statistics, men make up nearly three quarters of the treatment population. This fact was raised in the recent Dame Carol Black review into drugs and drug treatment, with Black concluding that much of service capacity is taken up by mostly male long-term opiate users, meaning “the capacity to develop expertise and services to meet the needs of other cohorts is limited.”

While men are more…


Peer distribution of naloxone is the best way to get the opioid overdose reversal drug where it’s needed.

Andy struts through Redcar town centre, his bright blue naloxone hoody protecting him from the fierce north sea breeze. He bellows hello to a woman across the street and fist bumps a guy he knows from his childhood. Then he sees a man he recognises from picking up his methadone script and it’s all systems go. Andy asks if he’s heard of naloxone. He hasn’t. He asks if he’d like to learn how to save a life. He would. The two sit together on a bench outside Sports Direct. In just eight minutes Andy expertly takes him through how to…


Volunteers are driven by the desire to use their experiences to help others. Treatment services couldn’t function without them.

Dave Taylor

The Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby has mixed memories for Dave. Five years ago he lay in one of its beds on the verge of death, having been put into an induced coma due to his alcohol issues. Now, he strides around its corridors like it’s his second home, chatting to the nurses before heading off to chat to people admitted to hospital due to their drinking. It all started when a clinician said he was struggling to get through to people who’d been admitted due to alcohol, so asked Dave to come with him. Dave says it…


The overdose reversal drug is simple, cost-effective and saves lives. But it has to be with the right people at the right time to make a difference.

A few years ago, Les Chandler walked into the hostel where he was living. A man lay motionless on the sofa in the communal area. His face had turned blueish, purple and he was making desperate choking sounds in his attempts to breathe. Staff were trying to resuscitate him, but it didn’t look good. Thankfully, Les had his naloxone kit in his pocket. He quickly administered the drug and the overdose symptoms stopped almost immediately. Without it, the man would almost certainly have died. Reflecting on the incident, Les is sombre: “If naloxone was around when I used to use…


Veterans are as diverse and complex as everyone else, but too often services treat them as one homogeneous group

Mike is a military man. The silhouette of a soldier etched across his upper arm tells you that before he starts speaking. He joined the armed forces in 2008, aged 16, as a vehicle mechanic after getting a taste for it through the army cadets. When talking about his time in the army he becomes misty eyed. “I enjoyed it tremendously, it was a great part of life for me. You go through rough times as a group together and that creates a strong bond. When you aren’t going through rough times you have plenty of money, you’re out and…


A new project in Dundee gives homeless people unconditional homes and support. What impact has it had on the ‘drug death capital of Europe’?

Down the quiet backstreets of Dundee, a world away from the flashy new V&A museum, Angie opens the door to an unremarkable domestic scene. She’s lived in her flat for nearly three months and has decided it’s “time to put my stamp on it.” Her cousin is lending a helping hand repainting the living room while Angie talks of planning to create a feature wall in her bedroom. …


People over 50 are using alcohol as a way of dealing with factors like divorce and bereavement. We need to show them they aren’t alone.

Growing up in South Wales, alcohol has always played a part in Vince’s life. Initially it was a supporting role, drinking when going out in Cardiff on a Saturday night or a couple of beers to unwind after working long shifts as an Aerospace technician. But after suffering a traumatic knee injury playing rugby, alcohol started to take centre stage. Despite having two operations in the early noughties his knee continued to give way when working long shifts, with the pain getting worse. It was at this point the “dynamic changed from social drinking to having a drink to deal…


Seaside towns often rank highest for drug related harm. Three coastal drug and alcohol workers discuss the challenges and possibilities in their communities.

Blackpool seafront via pixabay

Britain’s seaside towns are iconic. Colourful promenades and beautiful beaches conjure memories of fish and chips on the beach, sticks of rock and extravagant hotel breakfasts. But, a new House of Lords report describes how many have been “neglected for too long”, with many coastal communities being “let down and left behind” by a lack of investment and opportunities.

One symptom of this isolation and deprivation is that many have significantly worse drug problems than their inland counterparts. According to research by the Office for National Statistics, six of the 10 local authorities in England and Wales with the highest…


Walking through the door of a drug service can be daunting. Can women-only spaces make a difference?

Dani used drugs for the first time two years ago. Her thirteen year marriage was characterised by violence and abuse but she “did what I was told”, looking after the house and their five children while her husband often worked away. When the marriage eventually ended her husband told social services that she was an unfit mother. The threat of having her children taken away, coupled with the scars of years of abuse, made her “want to block out the world”.

She was referred to a mental health team who prescribed her diazepam (Valium). On the drug she “didn’t have…

Nye Jones

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