The substance misuse treatment service in Portsmouth has seen an increase in people seeking help for addictions in 2018/19, alongside an increase in completed treatment programmes and reductions in clients relapsing and needing to access the service again within six months.

The service, run by the Society of St James (SSJ), undertook a review in 2018 with the aim of reducing waste, increasing efficiencies and improving the client experience. This helped to achieve:

  • An additional 140 users coming into the service and being reported to the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS), rising to an additional 170 users when taking into account those not added to the system as they weren't receiving structured treatment (e.g. being supported by a key worker but not receiving substitute prescribing or attending therapy groups)
  • 56 more treatment completions year on year. This means leaving treatment drug and alcohol free, or with no use of opiates/cocaine use but occasional alcohol use.
  • Improvements in clients relapsing and returning to the service within 6 months. For alcohol users, relapses were down from 19.2% in 2017/18 to 6.5% in 2018/19, and for alcohol and non-opiate drug users, relapses decreased from 12.5% in 2017/18 to 11.8% in 2018/19.
  • A positive client experience. 71% of users scored their experience with the service as 10 out of 10, with 96% scoring it as an 8 or above.
  • A reduction in the time taken to provide a service user with a prescription for substitute medication, down from an average of 8.6 days in 2017/18 to 1.9 days in 2018/19.
  • Improvements in harm reduction behaviour with an 8.3% increase in clean needle usage and greater uptake of other safer injecting equipment. The return of sharps bins also increased almost 10% year on year. 255 Naloxone kits, an antidote to opiate overdose, were distributed during the year. These were used a number of times in supported housing projects to prevent overdoses becoming deaths and service users also reported using the Naloxone kit to save the lives of friends.

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said; "It's really positive to see such a number of improved outcomes for the substance misuse service. Seeking help, and completing treatment, for drug or alcohol addiction isn't easy so I commend those who have done it.

"I also recognise the continued efforts of the team at SSJ in looking to ensure that the service works as best as it can. The positive service user satisfaction scores are great to see and reflect their hard work."