New Substance Use Strategy published

The Health Improvement Commission welcomes the publication of the Combined Substance Use Strategy for Guernsey and Alderney 2021 – 2026 by the Committee for Health and Social Care. We were pleased to work alongside Public Health Services to support the development of the Strategy and the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment which provides the evidence to inform the strategy. Effective working between the third sector and government is an important part of HSC’s Partnership of Purpose.

For the first time, the areas of drugs, alcohol and tobacco use are included in a single strategy highlighting the need for joined up working on the often-shared causes and consequences of substance use. 

Whilst strategies such as this are States-owned, reducing the harm from substance use requires a whole system approach. There is no single solution, rather a need for collective action across many sectors and stakeholders. The Substance Use Strategy addresses this with interwoven actions across community, community and statutory services and government sectors and links with other areas such as domestic abuse and the justice system.

A real strength of the Substance Use Strategy is that alongside an important focus on treatment services and community initiatives sit a range of preventative upstream policy actions which aim to create healthier environments and address the wider causes of substance use.

Dr Simon Sebire, Chief Executive, The Health Improvement Commission

One part of our contribution to the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment was the inclusion of the voices of individuals that were using drug and alcohol services and their families as well as professional stakeholders. Using interviews, we explored what had worked for them in relation to their treatment journey, as well as what could be improved and if there were any gaps in the service delivery. The strategy actions aim to address the issues raised including the negative impact of stigma, clearer pathways between the drug and alcohol services and a focus on prevention. 

The Health Improvement Commission has been delivering community-based initiatives to reduce harms from alcohol and drugs since its inception in 2019. In 2021, The Commission expanded its work to deliver tobacco harm reduction initiatives, particularly in groups where prevalence and risk is greatest. More details about our initiatives can be found here. A recent success is our ongoing Count 14 Campaign, a social marketing project focused on raising awareness of the low-risk drinking guidelines. The campaign received national recognition by winning the South West region’s PRCA DARE awards in July 2021.

We really appreciate the effort made by Public Health to continue developing the Strategy throughout the pandemic. Myself and team look forward to working with all the stakeholders once again ensuring the interventions and initiatives within the Strategy can be accessed by all, providing person-centred care, therefore making a positive impact to the lives of those struggling with drug, alcohol or tobacco use.

Andrea Nightingale, Substance Use Lead, The Health Improvement Commission