Westminster Social Policy Forum

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Tackling drug addiction and substance misuse - latest thinking on prevention, supporting recovery, policy, and findings of the Independent Review

Morning, Monday, 28th June 2021


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is examining the key policy priorities for tackling drug addiction and substance misuse - including the support needed by those affected, and the role of key stakeholders in its provision.


This will be an opportunity to discuss the findings of the Independent Review of Drugs - with Part Two due to be released prior to the conference. This is set to examine:

  • the support people with a drug dependency may need alongside their recovery
  • the role of mental health, housing, employment, and criminal justice agencies

We are delighted to be able to include a keynote session with Professor Dame Carol Black, the Review lead - as well as contributions from Dr Keith Humphreys, Professor of Psychiatry, Stanford University; Advisor to the Independent Review into Drug Misuse and former drug policy advisor to President Barack Obama; Dr Emily Finch, Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust; and Clinical Director, Addictions Clinical Academic Group; Dr Anne Guy, Secretariat Co-ordinator, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence; and Jason Harwin, Deputy Chief Constable, Lincolnshire Police and Drugs Lead, National Police Chief’s Council.


The agenda will bring out latest thinking on:

  • priorities for improving recovery and treatment services
  • the impact of the pandemic on substance use and service provision
  • the way forward for addressing prescribed medicine dependence

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the DHSC; HMPPS; MHRA; and The Scottish Government - as well as parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library.


The agenda

  • Key proposals in part two of the Independent Review of Drug Misuse
  • Latest thinking on preventing the misuse of drugs among adults and young people - innovative approaches, early intervention, and tackling root causes of addiction
  • How people in recovery improve society’s response to addiction
  • Adapting service provision in the criminal justice system and embracing new ways of prescribing treatment
  • Linking with wider alcohol addiction services and mental health services
  • Next steps for reducing prescribed medicine dependence
  • Improving the quality and provision of treatment and recovery services
  • Taking forward the independent review and tackling the serious harms caused by substance misuse

Key areas for discussion:

  • taking forward the Independent Review - informing policymaking, and the wider priorities for tackling the serious harms caused by substance misuse
  • stakeholder perspectives - examining recommendations coming out of Part Two of the review
  • priorities for prevention:
    • COVID-19 - priorities for tackling health and societal inequalities in the wake of the pandemic, and addressing regional variation in drug and substance misuse
    • research priorities - developing the research and evidence base to support the dissemination of best practice in tackling the root causes of addiction
    • preventative measures - supporting intervention measures and education campaigns aimed at identifying and treating at-risk groups earlier
  • reducing prescribed medicine dependence - increasing awareness, and addressing underlying mental health triggers
  • adapting service provision in the criminal justice system - developing innovative approaches to commissioning, recovery, and service integration
  • improving treatment and recovery services - priorities for commissioning, and ensuring quality and provision:
    • COVID-19 - how addiction support services have adapted their offering during the pandemic to support vulnerable and at-risk groups
    • designing effective services - working with local communities, those with lived experience, and the third sector to build services that deliver productive change and drive continuous improvement
    • integration with other treatment areas - integrating treatment for mental health, alcohol addiction and drug services, and improving service user experience
    • international approaches - learning from other approaches used to tackle drug addiction and substance misuse
    • enabling longer term recovery - assessing priorities and coordinating support between regulators, housing, education, employment, and criminal justice agencies

Background to the discussion:

  • Independent review of drugs, part 2: prevention, treatment and recovery - which looks into:
    • the support people with a drug dependency may need alongside their recovery
    • the role of mental health, housing, employment, and criminal justice agencies
  • Independent review of drugs, part 1 - published last year, which:
    • found that the illicit drugs market was worth £9.4bn
    • detailed the challenges being faced around drug supply and demand, including that:
      • the heroin and crack cocaine retail market has been overtaken by the county lines model
      • most illegal drugs consumed in the UK are produced abroad
  • Prescribed medicines review - Public Health England’s review into prescribed medicine dependence, which found that:
    • more people are taking prescribed medicines for longer
    • the problem was greater than initially expected
  • UK regulator strengthens opioid warnings - MHRA outlining plans for over-the-counter medicines containing opioids for non-cancer pain to be given stronger warnings about dependence and addiction
  • COVID-19: guidance for commissioners and providers of services for people who use drugs or alcohol - updated guidance for commissioners setting out priorities for keeping drug and alcohol services open, and operating during the pandemic
  • Sobriety tags launched in England to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime - the introduction of new measures to help deter repeat offenders from consuming alcohol, following successful pilot programmes
  • Queen’s Speech 2021 - with a promise to tackle the various harms caused by drug misuse, and increase investment in support facilities
  • Cross-Party MPs demand reform of UK drug laws - the Transform Drug Policy Foundation reporting on a statement published by a group of parliamentarians on the 50th anniversary of the Misuse of Drugs Act

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library, and officials from the Department of Health and Social Care; HM Prison and Probation Service; the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency; and The Scottish Government.


Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from stakeholders in addiction treatment and prevention including medical groups, NHS bodies, treatment and rehab centres, community support workers, mental health experts, housing associations, homelessness and youth charities, veteran associations, education groups, pharma companies, local government, as well as researchers in academia and higher education, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



Keynote Speakers

Professor Dame Carol Black

Review lead, Independent Review into Drug Misuse

Dr Keith Humphreys

Professor of Psychiatry, Stanford University; Advisor to the Independent Review into Drug Misuse and former drug policy advisor to President Barack Obama

Keynote Speakers

Dr Anne Guy

Secretariat Co-ordinator, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence

Professor Dame Carol Black

Review lead, Independent Review into Drug Misuse

Dr Keith Humphreys

Professor of Psychiatry, Stanford University; Advisor to the Independent Review into Drug Misuse and former drug policy advisor to President Barack Obama

Jason Harwin

Deputy Chief Constable, Lincolnshire Police and Drugs Lead, National Police Chief’s Council

Dr Emily Finch

Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust; and Clinical Director, Addictions Clinical Academic Group

Chairs

Dr Dan Poulter MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health

Crispin Blunt MP

Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence

Speakers

Dave King

Director of Research, The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group

Danny Hames

Chair, NHS Addictions Provider Alliance, and Head of Inclusion, Midlands Partnership NHS FT

Councillor Asher Craig

Deputy Mayor, Communities, Equalities and Public Health, Bristol City Council

Mark Johnson

Founder, User Voice

Dr Linda Harris

Chief Executive and Clinical Director, Spectrum Community Health CIC and Chair, Health and Justice Clinical Reference Group, NHS England

Oliver Standing

Director, Collective Voice