Plan to stem the tide of young lives lost to Blackpool drug use

Blackpool has agreed a new raft of measures to tackle drug addiction after figures showed substance misuse in the resort is two-and-a-half times higher than the national average.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 3:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 3:20 pm

There are more than 2,000 opiate and crack cocaine users in the town and more than 600 people have been admitted to hospital in a single year with mental health and behavioural disorders linked to their drug use.

Meanwhile a survey of Year 10 pupils (14 and 15-year-olds) in Blackpool found a third had been offered cannabis.

A meeting of Blackpool’s Health and Wellbeing Board, made up of councillors, health officials and voluntary sector representatives, approved an updated Drug Harm Reduction Strategy including seven key measures.

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Dr Arif Rajpura who has warned about the loss of young lives from substance misuse
Dr Arif Rajpura who has warned about the loss of young lives from substance misuse

* Reduce accidental overdose including by use of the medicaton naloxone which blocks the effects of narcotics.

* Improve health services for people with drug addictions who often neglect their general physical health.

* Encourage consistent advice in schools on drug misuse and its implications.

* Support families, particularly children, exposed to substance misuse. This includes helping families stay together while protecting children.

* Work with the police to disrupt criminal activity including on the ADDER project (addiction, diversion, disruption, enforcement, recovery) which is a three year pilot funded by the Home Office.

* Support recovery by helping people back into the community through job opportunities and meeting their housing needs.

* Public health will work with partners from the voluntary sector and the NHS particularly around issues such as homelessness and mental health.

Tracy Hopkins, chief executive of the Blackpool Citizens Advice Bureau, was among those who welcomed the strategy.

She told the meeting: “There is a lot of work that happens on the ground in terms of supporting people and we need a more streamlined approach to joining up these services.”

She added it was vital to teach young people about the dangers of drugs.

Ms Hopkins said: “If as a town we take that approach and start with the education of young people, that’s where we’ll see a difference in terms of attitude to drugs and alcohol.”

But she also warned her services had seen an increase in people coming forward with addiction problems, particularly relating to alcohol, due to suffering social isolation during lockdown.

Blackpool Council’s director of public health Dr Arif Rajpura said the town “lost a lot of young lives to drugs”.

This included people in their 20s and 30s through overdoses, as well as people in their 40s and 50s due to neglect of their physical health.

This was one of the reasons Blackpool as a town has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the country.

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