Consultation finds more people in Cambridgeshire need help for prescription and over-the-counter drug dependence

Re-tendering is underway for drugs and alcohol services in Cambridgeshire - with consultation finding more people in the county are becoming dependent on prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

More needs to be done to help older people with a drug problem and those who are addicted to prescription and over-the-counter medicines according to findings in a recent public consultation.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Public Health are currently re-tendering the county’s adult drug and alcohol treatment service contract which is currently held by ‘Inclusion’ and expires at the end of September this year.

As part of the process the public health joint commissioning unit carried out public consultation between July and November to ask what people including local GPs and those who use the services what they think is working well and what extra more is needed.

In all 309 people including 48 who are currently using the service, and 32 GPs, responded. Three quarters of service users said it was easy to access but complained about the lack of evening and weekend opening, which meant it was difficult for those in work to attend.

Fewer older people responded, but the report said: “Comments highlighted that it was hard for older people to engage with a service that was geared for much younger users. ‘Age appropriate peer support and groups’ had the highest score from a choice of ways to best meet needs.”

It was widely reported, including from GPs themselves, that shared care was not something that most wanted to be involved with mainly because of the complexity of clients, the amount of time they required and a lack of expertise.

The report added: “An emerging group presenting with a specific problematic drug use were patients with prescription drug and/or over-the-counter drug dependence.”

They were seeing their GPs but were not accessing treatment, said the report.

The report, published last month, said: “The aim of the new service is to ensure that everyone who wants and needs support gets the best help they can to enable them to make the changes that they need to make. We also want to provide support to parents, partners and others who live with someone who is misusing drugs and alcohol.”

It adds the new contract will provide an opportunity to explore “new and innovative models of treatment provision to meet current need” and will include the provision of: Advice and information; medical treatment; harm reduction; recovery orientated programme of support; support around housing, education, training, work; family/carer support.

The new service will include: An integrated specialist drug and alcohol treatment system across Cambridgeshire.

Increased alignment and integration with related services to ensure that the complex needs (most notably poor mental and physical health, homelessness, unemployment) of service users are effectively addressed with treatment and recovery outcomes achieved. Robust recovery focused treatment approaches.

A long term condition treatment model which decreases demand for acute treatment services and ensures that needs are appropriately addressed. Early intervention and harm reduction interventions.

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