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PHE launches opioid treatment quality improvement programme

This week Public health England announced that it will be helping drug services implement the Drug misuse and dependence: UK guidelines on clinical management and improve treatment where it is not optimal.

In times of budget cuts these are the services that frequently have to justify the high cost of treatment. The fact is that helping people to be free from drug dependence is not only a benefit for the individuals but it also reduces expenditure elsewhere leading to reduced demand in the NHS, social care and lower crime rates.

One of the dilemmas to be addressed is that people who continue to use illegal substances (especially heroin) while on substitution treatment are less likely to fully benefit from treatment and to reduce the wider harms caused by their drug use. However, cutting down, rather than stopping drug use, is still a good result for many people and they still benefit from being in treatment. Pushing people too hard to stop all ‘use on top’ can drive them out of treatment or prevent them seeking help in the first place. The programme will develop resources to support services in getting this right.

The programme will also enhance wider recovery support for those in treatment by supporting services to help more in other aspects of their lives beyond drug use, such as employment, living arrangements, family relationships, trauma and abuse.

PHE will be making contact with providers and service user organisations shortly to gain their input and involvement.

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