The government has announced an additional £421m for local authorities to improve drug and alcohol addiction treatment and recovery services.

The funding, which will be distributed to local authorities across England through to 2025, will create 50,000 places in drug and alcohol treatment.

It will be prioritised according to local need, measured by rate of drug deaths, deprivation, opiate and crack cocaine prevalence and crime, taking into account of the size of the treatment population.

In December 2021, the government published a 10-year drug strategy, setting out its ambition to increase the capacity of treatment and recovery services.

Local authorities have invested existing funding in initiatives such as housing support, a peer-led outreach service and residential rehabilitation placements.

In Nottinghamshire, teams have used Budival (buprenorphine) with nine individuals, and plan to increase that uptake to 40 people this year.

Budival can be used to treat opioid addiction via an injection delivered by a healthcare professional, either once a week or once a month. Other treatments for opioid addiction, like methadone or Subutex, are usually taken daily.

In 2023–2024,  £154.3m will be shared between local authorities, while £266.7m is planned for 2024–2025.

It will be used to recruit staff to work in drug and alcohol misuse services, support prison leavers into treatment and recovery services, and invest in existing services to improve the quality of the support offered.

This might include residential rehabilitation, inpatient detoxification, and improvements to recovery services.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said that investment in drug and alcohol treatment and recover services was ‘crucial’.

He said: ‘Drug misuse has a massive cost to society - more than 3,000 people died as a result of drug misuse in 2021.

‘This investment in treatment and recovery services is crucial to provide people with high-quality support, with services such as expanding access to life-saving overdose medicines and outreach to young people at risk of drug misuse already helping to reduce harm and improve recovery.

‘This funding will help us build a much-improved treatment and recovery service, which will continue to save lives, improve the health and wellbeing of people across the country, and reduce pressure on the NHS by diverting people from addiction into recovery.’

Professor Dame Carol Black, independent adviser to the government on combating drug misuse, said, whose report recommended boosting the capacity of treatment and recovery services, said:

‘This continued investment is very welcome and will be crucial in supporting local authorities and their partners to increase the capacity and quality of their services for people with drug and alcohol dependence, in line with the key recommendations of my independent review of drugs.

‘This will help realise the ambitions of the government’s 10-year drug strategy to deliver a world-class treatment and recovery system, reduce drug use and drug-related crime, and save lives.’

Danny Hames and Kate Hall, chair and vice-chair of the NHS Addictions Provider Alliance (APA), welcomed the announcement.

‘We hope that the additional £421 million funding allocated to local authorities across England will be utilised to shape a joined-up system that ensures everyone in need has equal access to high-quality care.

‘This cannot be achieved without partnership work across the sector, something that we are committed to doing as an alliance of NHS trusts, in a continued effort to reduce the rising number of drug-related deaths seen annually and positively change the lives of thousands of people,’ they said.

In October, national health and social care charity Change Grow Live told The Pharmacist that community pharmacy could play a key role in enabling more equitable drug and alcohol services and lead to better outcomes for patients.

Mohammed Fessal, chief pharmacist at the charity, said that pharmacies could help support patients receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT) without supervised consumption, but that more could be done to help them deliver this service.