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Drug misusers need a personalised package of support with greater control over their individual drug treatment in order to sustain their road back to recovery, according to Whole Person Recovery, a report from the RSA.

In its study of over 200 people across West Sussex, the RSA found that involving users in the design and development of drug services resulted in a better chance of their recovery. And they found that nearly a third of users would like a personalised budget –  through which they can commission flexible services according to their needs.

View the Whole Person Recovery report

The reports concludes that reducing stigmatisation is vital if local authorities are to develop 'recovery communities' in which drug misusers can tap into the good will and support of local stakeholders. It calls for a campaign to change public attitudes towards the wellbeing of problematic drug users in order that communities can do more to tackle the problem themselves.

Whole Person Recovery concludes that recovery is 'contagious' – users should be part of networks of people who are recovering from problematic drug use and people that support their recovery such as non-using family and friends.

The report concludes that services should be commissioned around each individual's needs taking into account their 'recovery capital' – the framework of individuals, services, families, friends and the community that surrounds them – and that this would in turn lead to greater efficiencies.

Commenting on the report, chief executive of the RSA, Matthew Taylor said:

"The RSA Whole Person Recovery project is a signpost to the Big Society public services of the future. It encourages us to define public services not simply in terms of those things provided by the state but also wider social attitudes and support. As austerity bites it is important that we reconceptualise public services by including the vital networks of family, friends and the wider community. By blurring the boundary between the state and civil society we can not only understand services more fully but also see the ways in which well designed public services encourage and support, rather than crowd out, the efforts of families and communities to help vulnerable people."

Working in partnership with the West Sussex DAAT, the RSA discovered that small interventions can also have big effects in a problematic drug user's recovery. As such, the RSA will be piloting the use of a 'small sparks' scheme in which individual users can apply for small grants to help them on their next step in recovery and may cover anything from transport costs to buying a suit for an interview.

Other ideas that are set to be piloted include:

  • The development of a detailed training pack for GPs so that they can become more aware of the issues problematic drug users face. Currently, GPs receive a small amount of training in substance misuse (with optional post-graduate study) and are often unaware of the range of support services available locally. GPs can also be strongly influenced by the stigma associated with subtance misuse which can create tension between patient and professional when seeking help.

  • A drop-in centre in Bognor Regis that can offer advice and guidance to anyone affected by problem drug and alcohol use, including the friends and families of users.

  • A radio service website will be designed and developed by recovered problematic drug users to provide the possibility of 24-hour support in a cost effective way. The radio service will be peer led and will provide users with stories of hope and recovery; interviews and programmes on a variety of topics; harm minimisation information and guidance from experts; information, advice and guidance about local services.

Going forward, the RSA will continue to work with the West Sussex DAAT throughout 2011 to develop recovery alliances that will pilot the ideas mentioned above and champion the case for user-centred services and the personalisation of drug treatment.

View the Whole Person Recovery report


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