A 4-year strategy to identify, support, safeguard and improve the health and well-being of families where there is drug and alcohol misuse has been developed in Sheffield – Hidden Harm Strategy: Drug and Alcohol Misuse in the Household 2016-2020. This is supported by the Hidden Harm Implementation Group and the Strategy Implementation Plan.
The strategy commits Sheffield’s services to improving outcomes for whole households where drug and/or alcohol misuse is a feature. The review into previous Hidden Harm Strategies (2010 and 2013-2016), alongside the findings from the current evidence base and the ‘new insights and understanding’, identified the need to widen the scope of this Strategy to:
- Encompass a Whole Household Approach, including fathers, mothers, significant others as well as children, young people and their siblings;
- Pay greater attention to households where there are issues relating to alcohol misuse, and the use of cannabis, image and performance enhancing drugs, new psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’), and prescribed and over the counter preparations, as well as opiate and cocaine use;
- Include primary (universal) and secondary (targeted) prevention services as well as specialist services.
It is therefore relevant to all services coming into contact with children, young people, adults and families.
The core of the Strategy centers on improving the ability of frontline staff in universal services to identify those that are misusing alcohol and or drugs (including new psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’) and prescribed and over the counter preparations) at the stage when the evidence base for early brief interventions is strongest. Supporting and enabling front line staff to intervene, especially in relation to drug and alcohol misuse and parenting, at an early stage should reduce the need for more intensive interventions at a later stage.