A four-year plan to reduce the impacts drug and alcohol use have on individuals, families and communities, has been approved by Bristol’s Cabinet.
The new Drug and Alcohol Strategy for Bristol 2021-2025 aims to prioritise prevention and support the development of a city where everyone has the right to physical health and mental wellbeing, safe from the harms of alcohol and other drugs.
Six priorities have been identified to tackle the issues associated with substance misuse. These priorities include a range of actions that the council along with partner agencies and support organisations will aim to deliver.
Actions include, among others, ensuring existing services serve the needs of local communities, improving the education available to children, their parents and young adults on the risk of drugs and alcohol, and improve likes between services to ensure an holistic approach is taken that includes addressing wider needs such as housing, unemployment and mental health.
The strategy also includes the commitment to investigate the evidence base behind new harm reduction measures such as drug consumption rooms, a pledge made by Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, earlier in 2021.
The plan has been developed in collaboration with organisations from across Bristol, with input also received form several national groups. Partners have included local NHS partners, the Bristol Drugs Project, Golden Key, Hawkspring, One 25 and Youth Moves.
Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “This strategy has, at its very core, the aim of improving the health of our city for everyone so that we can all, have the best opportunity possible to flourish. I’m grateful to our partners who joined with us to offer their expertise, experience and compassion in drafting this plan.
"The depth of understanding brought by this wider group has helped us better understand the challenge we collectively face in achieving our aims but I have little doubt that by working together we can deliver the support and structures needed to succeed.
“Issues associated with drug and alcohol use are complex as are the impacts that are felt by individuals, families and communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has added to these complexities and has in some cases created an environment where we are seeing increased drug and alcohol use.
"There are also new and emerging approaches to supporting people with drug and alcohol dependency that need investigating as best practice and understanding of substance misuse develops.
"This strategy aims to recognise these multiple factors whilst also being sensitive to the needs of individuals, many of whom are vulnerable and require support on their recovery journey.”
The impacts of drug and alcohol on the city are set out in the strategy, which paints a picture of a city with active, supportive, and tolerant communities but where substance use remains a significant problem.
There are an estimated 6,500 alcohol-dependant adult drinkers in Bristol. During 2018/19, there were 10,773 admissions to hospital for alcohol-related conditions and nearly 200 people a year die in Bristol because of such conditions.
There are an estimated 5,000 users of opiates and crack cocaine in the city, equal to a rate almost double the national average. Over the three-year period covering 2017 and 2019, there were 99 drug related deaths.
A copy of the Drug and Alcohol Strategy for Bristol 2021-2025 can be found on the council website.