The new drug strategy, published yesterday, is the high level vision that my colleague, Rebecca Daddow, described in a recent RSA Comment article. Steering away from the nuts and bolts of implementing the vision, it leaves the room for ‘leaders… in local areas’ to shape the service landscape.
It is great to see the government draw on the recent RSA work (Whole Person Recovery & Recovery Capital) in the final sections of the strategy: ‘Building recovery in communities’. Alongside the direct reference to the commissioned paper ‘The Potential of Recovery Capital’, the strategy’s acknowledgment of the need to develop a locally contextualised whole system approach to recovery that is ‘person-centred’ echoes the proposals of our new Whole Person Recovery’s report.
But unlike the strategy, our work offers practical examples of how to implement this at the local level. And crucially, it demonstrates how to engage the beneficiaries of the system – the problem drug and alcohol users, their families and friends and their communities.
It’s unlikely that we will ever live in the type of drug-free society that the strategy calls for. But we can create the communities in which those who decide to dabble with substances – whether drugs or alcohol – are protected against developing the problems that can develop as a result of misuse.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.