Council bosses are to look to reshape the town’s drug and alcohol treatment services to focus on preventing problems.
It comes after a Hartlepool Borough Council finance and policy committee report noted drug and alcohol dependency in the town causes significant harm to people.
Councillors voted to endorse an ‘enhanced current service’ of its present model which will retain and strengthen an in-house element of receiving referrals and proving immediate support.
It also involves engaging with external bodies to provide the clinical element, such as prescribing treatment, wound care, primary care, virus screening and sexual health care.
Councillors backed the move and said they need to focus on preventing drug and alcohol issues in the town.
Coun Kevin Cranney said: “I feel that we need to be moving towards a more preventative approach, because we don’t seem to be tackling the issue and it always seems to be reactive rather than proactive.
“I support where we’re going with this.”
Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “This service we need to be in control of it, because it is affecting housing, work, everything.
“I’m all in favour of it because I understand it is early days but moving towards that preventative model is where we need to go.”
The report which went to the committee also noted Hartlepool has one of the highest death rates from drug misuse and alcohol related liver disease in the North East.
It also claims substance misuse is a major factor in the rising demand for children’s social care services
Sally Robinson, director of children and joint commissioning services, added the council was still in a ‘change period’ after implementing its latest service plan to bring the provision of support in house in 2016.
This has involved dealing with problems such as the needle exchange, which have since been resolved.
She said: “I know last summer there was a crisis in relation to the needle exchange and some significant difficulties, that has then been resolved and sorted.
“Incrementally what we’re doing is trying to improve the in-house offers, once we have a new commissioned offer then we can start to wrap around the whole offer.”
It comes after last week concerns were raised over an ‘inexorable rise’ in drug and alcohol problems by both police and health bosses in Hartlepool.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service