The number of people hooked on drugs in Hartlepool is twice the national average, according to latest figures.
Services to help users to break free of illegal substances are set to be brought in house by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Public Health Department next year as part of efforts to tackle the problem.
A report that recently went before councillors stated that Hartlepool’s rate of drug dependency is 18.9 per 1,000 of the population compared to 8.63 for England.
Public health chiefs for the town also say they are working to address issues which contribute to Hartlepool having the 16th highest rate of alcohol related hospital admissions in the country.
From next April, recovery services are due to be brought in-house by the council while specialist clinical prescribing services, such as methadone treatment, will continue to be commissioned to an outside provider.
Louise Wallace, Director of Public Health for Hartlepool, says the new approach will save money and provide the best service.
In house provision offers the most cost efficient and effective use of funds and increases opportunities for individuals to successfully complete treatmentLouise Wallace, Director of Public Health for Hartlepool
She said: “In-house provision of Substance Misuse Recovery Support Services offers the most cost efficient and effective use of Public Health funds, as well as providing the greatest opportunity for direct integration with existing council services and increases opportunities for individuals to successfully complete treatment.”
Public Health England recently published data to help communities put in place effective plans for drugs prevention, treatment and recovery in 2016-17.
Ms Wallace added: “This highlighted the prevalence estimates and indicated that there is currently significant need with regard to substance misuse treatment, with prevalence levels at twice the national average with regard to opiate and crack cocaine users.
“It is however worthy of note that 71% of those estimated as having a need are currently accessing treatment services and evidence shows that when engaged in treatment, people use less illegal drugs, misuse alcohol less, commit fewer crimes, improve their health and manage their lives better which all benefit the community as a whole.”
She added that by bringing recovery support services in house it will prevent the need for a lengthy procurement process and cut overhead costs by 10%.
“This then releases funding which could be reinvested to bring in specialist support, such as a Substance Misuse Social Worker and a Community Psychiatric Nurse, into the recovery support team, strengthening links into mainstream social care and mental health services,” said Ms Wallace.
She added: “In terms of Hartlepool’s rate of all persons admitted to hospital for alcohol related conditions we are currently working to address those issues through provision of an Alcohol GP Liaison Worker to improve the early identification, treatment and support offer to individuals and within our in-house provision will be working closely to provide a hospital in-reach facility.”