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Drug misusers in West Kent are to get help reintegrating back into their communities through new local 'recovery alliances' – partnerships made up of service users, community workers, local businesses and other volunteers – as part of a major project announced by the RSA.

From June 2012, substance misuse services in the area will be delivered by a consortium including the RSA, the charity CRI and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Working together they will implement the RSA's 'Whole Person Recovery' model in which:

  • Drug misusers are involved in the design and development of a personalised treatment programme.

  • A system of recovery is built around the individual's personal experience of drug use, prison, treatment, family relationships, employment and community life.

  • Communities, businesses, volunteers and social enterprises work together to sustain individuals' recovery journeys.

The contract for delivering the substance misuse services in West Kent has been awarded on a payment by results basis, in which a proportion of the value of the contract is dependent on improving health and wellbeing and reducing reoffending.

Commenting on the project, RSA director of research, Steve Broome said:

"The public agree that investment in drug treatment services is a good use of public money with around 1 in 5 people having direct or indirect experience of problems surrounding addiction. But more needs to be done to break down long held stigmas around drug misuse and encourage communities to help people's recovery.

"Traditional models have focused on treatment which is good but not enough. Our approach does not finish as treatment ends but instead focuses on helping people build bridges to participating in society."

Recovery Community Organisers will be based in Maidstone, Gravesend, and Tonbridge and the RSA will engage with its 1000 local fellows in Kent to raise awareness of recovery and help people to recover. The RSA is kick-starting its work across West Kent with a series of 'recovery events'. The project follows two major RSA reports into drug policy ('Drugs – Facing Facts 2007' and 'Whole Person Recovery 2010') that called for:

  • A health and social rather than criminal focus on drugs

  • Drug services to become more personalised with greater user involvement in the design and support of services

  • 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

  • Networks of people who are recovering from problematic drug use and those people that support their recovery such as non-using family and friends

  • Services to 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.


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