Developing pathways for alcohol treatment

Guidance on referring alcohol dependent patients from hospital to specialist alcohol treatment in the hospital or in the community | Public Health England


This guidance is about developing pathways for referral and care and for patients whose routine alcohol screening in secondary care suggests that they may be alcohol dependent.

It can be used by people implementing the Preventing ill health by risky behaviours – alcohol and tobacco CQUIN in acute, mental health and community trusts. It can also be used by NHS commissioners and planners and those planning, commissioning and providing community alcohol treatment.

The guidance aims to:

  • show the components of treatment for dependent drinking
  • describe what helps patients’ smooth passage through their treatment for alcohol dependence

Full guidance: Developing pathways for referring patients from secondary care to specialist alcohol treatment


Adult substance misuse statistics published

Public Health England & Department of Health  | May 2018 |Adult substance misuse statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS)


The report presents statistics submitted by services delivering structured substance misuse interventions. These services are vital components of local authority treatment and recovery systems and the interventions they deliver can improve the lives of individuals, the life chances of their children and the stability of their communities. They also have a significant impact in reducing drug and alcohol-related ill health and death, the spread of blood-borne viruses and in reducing crime. The harmful effects of alcohol and drugs are greater in poorer communities and effective treatment services can play an important role in addressing these inequalities (Public Health England & Department of Health).

The full report can be downloaded here 

Alcohol and mental health policy and practice in England

Institute of Alcohol Studies & Centre for Mental Health| April 2018 | Alcohol and mental health policy and practice in England

According to the Centre for Mental Health people who have alcohol and mental health problems are not well recognised in national policy. Mental health issues are poorly addressed in government alcohol policies, while alcohol is barely mentioned in national mental health policies including the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. And budget constraints in both substance misuse and mental health services have put extra pressure on services already struggling to meet people’s needs.

The Institute of Alcohol Studies and Centre for Mental Health surveyed people who work in alcohol and mental health services. The results of the survey indicate that support  for people with co-occurring conditions was poor.

alcohol and mental health
Image source: centreformentalhealth

Key findings

  • Most staff, in both alcohol and mental health services, felt that
    support for people with co-occurring conditions was poor.
  • Support for homeless people was consistently the biggest area of concern. Our survey also found that trust and understanding between alcohol and mental health services were weak.
  • Alcohol service staff were, however, overall more critical of mental health services than vice versa.
  • Barriers to greater integration included funding and workforce shortages (especially in alcohol services through lack of training), and the stigma facing people with co-occurring conditions.

They recommend that the UK Government should urgently develop a comprehensive alcohol strategy and commit, alongside NHS England, to a second Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

A news piece can be read at the Centre for Mental Health 

The full report Alcohol and Mental Health can be found here  

Alcohol and drugs prevention, treatment and recovery: why invest?

A new resource by Public Health England (PHE) poses this question, to support local commissioners, providers and healthcare professionals to make the case for investing in drug and alcohol treatment and interventions. 

Source: Public Health England

They have produced a set of 32 slides, like the example above which can be downloaded and shared in presentations.

All the Why invest? slides are available from PHE to download here 

There is more guidance on PHE’s website

Substance misuse services

This briefing looks at the quality and safety of clinics offering residential services for people withdrawing from drugs or alcohol | Care Quality Commission (CQC)


The Care Quality Commission has published Substance misuse services: the quality and safety of residential detoxification. This briefing examines the quality and safety of clinics offering residential services for people withdrawing from drugs or alcohol.  It outlines concerns identified during CQC inspections and gives an example of good practice, as well as actions and recommendations.

The briefing reported a number of concerns. Many of the clinics were not:

  • assessing the risks to the safety of people prior to their admission following recognised national clinical guidance on treating people who are withdrawing from alcohol or drugs
  • storing, dispensing and handling medicines
  • appropriately carrying out full employment checks or sufficiently training their staff

The CQC also found that nearly three in four providers failed in at least one of the fundamental standards of care that everyone has the right to expect, whilst almost two-thirds of providers were not meeting the requirement for providing safe care and treatment.

Full briefing: Substance misuse services: the quality and safety of residential detoxification


Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England

This report contains results from a survey of secondary school pupils in England in years 7 to 11. 12,051 pupils in 177 schools completed questionnaires in the autumn term of 2016. | NHS Digital

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This survey report presents information on the percentage of pupils who have ever smoked, tried alcohol or taken drugs and their attitudes towards these behaviours.  It also includes breakdowns by age, gender, ethnicity and region.

Other areas covered include the use of new psychoactive substances (also known as legal highs), beliefs about drinking, whether pupils had ever got drunk and consequences of drinking. Questions on the use of nitrous oxide have also been asked for the first time.

Key Facts

In 2016

  • 19 per cent of 11-15 year old pupils had ever smoked, which is similar to 2014
  • 44 per cent of pupils had ever drunk alcohol
  • 24 per cent of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs. This compares to 15 per cent in 2014. Part of the increase since 2014 may be explained by the addition of questions on nitrous oxide and new psychoactive substances. After allowing for this however, it still represents a large increase. Therefore an estimate from the next survey in 2018 is required before we can be confident that these survey results reflect a genuine trend in the wider population. In the meantime the results for drug taking from this survey should be treated with caution.
  • 3 per cent of pupils were regular smokers, 10 per cent had drunk alcohol in the last week and 10 per cent had taken drugs in the last month.

Full report: Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England – 2016: Report

How alcohol and drug treatment helps to reduce crime

Report re-affirms how important drug treatment is in cutting crime, as well as preventing alcohol and drug-related deaths and helping people recover from dependence. | Ministry of Justice | Public Health England


In England, almost 300,000 adults get help for drug and alcohol dependency each year. Most people receiving drug treatment are addicted to heroin or crack cocaine, or both, and many commit crimes to fund their addiction.

New analysis published last week by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has added to the evidence of how alcohol and drug treatment can help to prevent crime.

The analysis revealed that:

  • In 2012, nearly 133,000 people started treatment for drugs and alcohol, 35% of which had a criminal conviction recorded against them in the two years previous
  • Overall 44% of people in treatment hadn’t offended again two years after starting treatment
  • The number of recorded offences by people in treatment fell by a third over the two years, from 129,000 to 86,500
  • People who had been in prison before starting treatment, and those who dropped out and came back to treatment, were more likely to reoffend
  • People who successfully completed their treatment, or were still in treatment at the end of the two years, were less likely to reoffend

Full story at Public Health England

Full report: The impact of community-based drug and alcohol treatment on re-offending