Annual Conference lecture: Professor Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs
Professor Dame Carol Black talks about the key findings from her independent review of drugs, and shares her vision for how the declining capacity and quality of treatment services can be turned around.
Professor Dame Carol Black’s session from the SSA Annual Conference in November 2021 covered the second part of her independent review of drugs published in 2021. This report set the scene for much of what the UK Government would announce when launching its 10-year drug strategy.
The session was introduced by the SSA president Dr Ed Day, and Professor Black began by summarising the increasing harms from illicit drugs, noting a treatment system that was “found wanting”. Professor Dame Carol Black talked about the declining capacity and quality of treatment services before covering key findings from her review, including mental health and addiction treatment, prison services and the importance of and need for collaborative and cross-departmental working.
“I tried to put the individual…at the centre, and then tried to ask what do they need to move on their road to recovery. I put quite a lot of things around the person…each time you take one of these away, and say “well we don’t really have the resources for that”… you are minimising the chances of that person being able to move along the road to recovery. And all the things I put around my individual is dependent on various departments of state keeping to their word and having a sustained investment in this area.”
Professor Black then answered questions from conference delegates, providing a stark, yet hopeful, answer on recent history of drug treatment commissioning and policy:
“The biggest driver for me, once I saw what the situation was like was to say ‘the past is awful and I wished it had never been, but what do we do and what do I have to really push for to try and get us back, first of all into a steady state and then really to be able to do some good things’.”
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