Sheffield alcoholics and drug addicts get extra support

Northern General Hospital
Northern General Hospital
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Hundreds of alcoholics and drugs addicts who lead chaotic lives are to get dedicated help to stop their anti-social behaviour and repeated hospital admissions.

Sheffield Council says there is a group of people who are often disruptive with aggressive or passive street begging, public drinking, anti-social behaviour and Spice addictions.

Officers say they “move chaotically” between a number of services and often turn up at

“high cost acute services” such as A&E. If they do engage with drug and alcohol support groups, it is “often short term and sporadic”. Most health services do not have the resources to deal with their complex needs.

Now a new project will work with 200 people who are heavily and repeatedly involved in substance misuse, homelessness, offending or anti-social behaviour and with mental health difficulties. Another 386 adults in these categories, who are also alcoholics, will also be helped.

Council officers say individuals repeatedly arrived at the Northern General Hospital with drink related conditions and and receive unplanned medical alcohol detoxification.

A report to the council’s Cabinet says: “There are a number of relatively small groups of adults in Sheffield with multiple, complex and often recurring needs. This includes alcohol and drug abuse; homelessness and/or rough sleeping; health and mental health problems; and offending or anti-social behaviour.

“These individuals typically have much lower wellbeing and life outcomes, have difficulty engaging with traditional support services, and are also costly to local and central government due to their frequent use of high cost and intensity, and emergency, services.

“Increasing the support available will lead to an increase in positive outcomes for not just this group, but also their friends, families, and the wider population of Sheffield.”

The project will see workers build up trust with an individual and work intensively with them, helping them access community services. Alcoholics will receive clinical support in hospital and detox support in the community.

The project will start in April 2019 and will run for five years. The report adds: “By working intensively with the most chaotic elements of this group it will free up resources for existing services to work with other, less problematic users.”

The estimated cost of the project is £5.8m over five years but it should save the “public purse” £3m - £3.7m as the demand on hospitals, the police and the council drops.