The city was announced by the Government’s Department of Health and Social Care as being part of the first 50 local authorities with the ‘highest level of need’, and is therefore set to receive enhanced funding to tackle the local drug and alcohol treatment crisis.
This was decided based on the city’s drug death rate, levels of deprivation, opiate and crack cocaine prevalence, and crime rates.
According to the UK Addiction Treatment Group, under the announcement, Sunderland is set to receive £833,373 in its drug strategy allocation, plus an additional £64,226 to fund inpatient detoxification.
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Another 50 local authorities will be selected for 2023/24 and the final, less-urgent areas in 2024/25.
The breakdown of funding was announced earlier this month by Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid, as part of a £780million national investment over three years.
“This is a significant step in our commitment to rebuild the drug treatment system, save lives and level up the country,” said Mr Javid.
“We’re investing a record amount in treatment services and ensuring some of the most deprived areas in England are first in line for this funding, to support those most vulnerable by cutting drug use.”
In 2022 to 2023, a total of £85.7million will be issued to improve services in line with the Government’s 2021 drug strategy and the recommendations from Dame Carol Black’s independent review, in which she described the present system “not fit for purpose” with her findings described as “disturbing, even shocking” warning “funding cuts have left treatment and recovery services on their knees”.
Nuno Albuquerque, consultant treatment lead for the UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT), said: “The extra, immediate funding for drug and alcohol treatment services in Sunderland is of course welcomed, but we hope it isn’t all smoke and mirrors.
“This money needs to be spent cleverly by the council here and with the addict in mind.”
He added: “There’s no point spending money to detoxify people from drugs only to leave them on their own straight after. Their body will no longer be addicted, but their minds will be.
"Consistent and immediate therapy and rehabilitation is required to ensure that this extra funding isn’t wasted and most importantly, to give the person in treatment the best chance of a life in recovery.”
All local authorities in England will eventually receive additional funding as part of the drugs strategy’s £780million investment.
The UK Addiction Treatment Group provides 24/7 confidential help and support with drugs and alcohol.