DASS, the Drug and Alcohol Support Service for under 19s in Portsmouth, has expanded to be able to offer greater support to young people using drugs and alcohol in the city, as well as offering drop-in support sessions for parents worried about their teenagers use of substances.
The service now has three members of staff which enables them to see a greater number of young people and more quickly. This increased provision also means the service can run three evening sessions a week from different youth centres making it more accessible. Young people can now refer into the service themselves or an adult can refer with their consent, whereas previously they could only access support if they were working with a professional like a social worker who referred them into the service.
A worker from DASS can meet the young person in a variety of settings such as their home, school, Family Hub, youth club or even a coffee shop.
The service is confidential in line with safeguarding policies, which means the worker would only discuss the young person with others if there was a risk of serious harm and they would normally discuss this with the young person first where feasible. DASS encourages parent involvement but only where a young person is comfortable with this.
The service now also offers confidential, supportive drop-in sessions for Portsmouth parents who have concerns or questions around their child's substance use, or potential use of drugs or alcohol. These run from four different Family Hubs in the city. Visit portsmouth.gov.uk/dass for details.
In addition the service provides training to organisations and staff who work with young people to enable them to offer substance misuse support. There are now Substance Misuse Champions within each social worker and play and youth teams, as well as in places such as hostels, Pompey in the Community and Motiv8. Each secondary school will also have a Substance Misuse Champion trained by DASS.
Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said; "There are an increasing number of challenges for young people growing up today and substances can be a way for them to try and fit in or deal with negative feelings. Using these at a young age impacts on their immediate health and wellbeing but also has longer term implications by affecting things like their education and relationship choices. I'm so pleased that DASS has been able to increase the support it provides to both young people and parents. This will make a valuable difference to the city."
DASS is one of a number of council initiatives helping children to get the best start in life with others including; increased stop smoking support for expectant mothers, the Toothville oral health video, the Family Support Project to help parents reduce alcohol use and the Miss School, Miss Out attendance campaign.
Young people, parents or professionals can contact DASS on firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 07951497898 or 07557753131.