Drug and alcohol services

Guidance for commissioners of drug and alcohol servicesThis guide has been written to provide practical advice on developing and delivering local plans and strategies to commission the most effective and efficient drug and alcohol services for adults.

Based upon clinical best practice guidance and drawing upon the range of available evidence, it describes what should be expected of a modern drug and alcohol service in terms of effectiveness, outcomes and value for money.

The guide will be of particular use to:

  • public health leaders who will hold responsibility for commissioning these services
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)
  • wider local authority commissioners
  • and voluntary and independent sector organisations.

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This guide does not cover drug and alcohol services for children or offenders, whose needs may be more specific. More information can be found in the publication Practice Standards for Young People with Substance Misuse Problems

Ten key messages for commissioners

  1. Investment in drug and alcohol services gets results. Treatment, as part of a co-ordinated public health approach is proven to be cost effective for health services and society as a whole. Disinvestment brings with it a risk of reversing the progress made over recent years.
  2. A strong evidence base exists for the range of interventions that are effective in substance misuse. Commissioning should be based upon this evidence using NICE quality standards.
  3. To be effective, the treatment system should be equipped to respond to the full range of complexity of need represented by those who misuse substances.
  4. A skilled workforce, working under appropriate supervision and providing care within national competence frameworks, is key to delivering good outcomes.
  5. Collaboration and partnership gets results. The NHS and voluntary sector have a contribution to make in the delivery of drug and alcohol services.
  6. Commissioning of drug and alcohol services should be based upon accurate and up to date information about local needs.
  7. Commissioners should ensure that local services have clear leadership, both clinical and managerial, and that services comply with professional and service standards.
  8. Commissioning of drug and alcohol services should be outcome based and make use of available data and information.
  9. Services should place recovery at the centre of their approach and commissioners should recognise recovery as central to their commissioning and strategic decision making.
  10. Treatment is not simply about patients – it should address the needs of families and carers, and work with patients’ wider social networks.