Council to shell out £54m on addiction services as it fights scourge of drug-related deaths in Camden

Camden Town Hall

A new support service for families of people beset by addiction will be “key” in tackling substance misuse in Camden, according to politicians.

The project will be commissioned by Camden Council after its cabinet yesterday agreed to spend £54m on a contract for up to 10 years’ worth of specialist clinical support for those battling addiction.

There are roughly 5,400 people in the borough with substance misuse problems, and research has showed that their recovery is helped if their family is also supported.

Deputy leader and cabinet member for safer communities Pat Callaghan said supporting families will bring “better outcomes”.

She described the new service as “the real gem” in the new contract, which will start next year.

The council estimates there are 2,147 opiate and crack cocaine users in Camden, with over half of them not in contact with treatment services.

It puts the number of local people who are dependent on alcohol at 3,300, and the majority of them are also not receiving help.

According to the Town Hall, the number of drug-related deaths in Camden is among the highest in the country.

It is thought that an “ageing group” of people who have used opiates since the 1980s are more susceptible to ill health and overdoses, and that new trends in drug use might increase the risk of overdosing.

Poor mental health and substance misuse are “a significant issue” in Camden, which has the third highest prevalence of serious mental illness in England.

A report said 55 per cent of people starting alcohol and drug treatment in 2020/21 also needed mental health treatment – up six per cent on the previous year.

During the same period, 5.3 per cent of people successfully completed treatment for opiate addiction – the national average is 4.7 per cent. 

There was a 41.6 per cent success rate for drinkers – higher than the 35.3 per cent national average.

Camden also saw a 33 per cent success rate for people addicted to other drugs, in line with the national picture.

The new contract will also see “strengthened” joint work to ensure people are not excluded from either mental health or substance misuse services.

Camden currently offers an alcohol service, specialist drug treatment, community drug treatment, and a recovery service. These are provided by the NHS and charities working with homeless people and those suffering from addiction, and Camden wants to create “a single point of entry”.

It also plans to increase its work with partners such as Camden Routes Off The Streets and the Camden Adult Pathway project, both of which work with homeless people.

People who use local treatment services told the council they want them to be “more local”, so the contract will look at using primary care buildings such as GP surgeries and clinics or other community venues.

Services will also be asked to have flexible opening times and evening appointments, with some activities and groups sessions at weekends.

The contract will go out to tender in July and will start next April.

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