Drugs (professional)

Key messages & facts

Hertfordshire's treatment system for drugs and alcohol has been constructed over the past four years to ensure that, in line with a broad range of evidence and Government strategy, Hertfordshire drug and alcohol users have access to services that provide a range of interventions and therapies to treatment drug misuse, and services to support users and their carers to achieve long-term and sustainable recovery, ideally with abstinence as the end goal.

We recognise that drug and alcohol misuse is a chronic and relapsing condition, and therefore the system also needs to include provision for those who are not yet ready or able to abstain, and also harm reduction approaches for those who are not yet ready or able to engage in treatment.

Key priorities

Analysis of those in treatment suggests that target populations should be:

  • 18-24 year olds (who exit in an unplanned way disproportionately more than other groups); those in treatment for more than 4 years (who are generally more reliant on intensive treatment interventions and are more likely to remain `stuck? in treatment;
  • those with dual diagnosis or other presenting co-morbidity, including those with a range of complex needs
  • alcohol users (particularly given the wide ranging social and medical impacts of alcohol use
  • parents (40% of new treatment starts are parents)

In recognition of these priority groups, our key areas for development include:

  • Continued development of evidence-based treatment services that meet the needs of the identified populations, including optimisation of treatment interventions;
  • Development of harm reduction approaches, including interventions to engage those who are in pre-contemplation such as therapies utilising new technology;
  • Family-focussed support services, including those that support safeguarding and effective parenting, and which reduce the harm from parental substance misuse;
  • Development of services to improve long-term sustainable recovery (housing, employment, peer support, re-integration, etc);
  • Development of services to address alcohol misuse, including new services to off-set the impact of alcohol users who frequently require support from health and social care services.

Referral & pathways (mainstream BAU)

If you are concerned about the use of drugs of any sort, either by yourself, or by someone you know, help and advice is available:

  • Spectrum - Hertfordshire's drugs and alcohol treatment and recovery service 0800 6523169 - is provided by national third sector organisation CRI. The service provides treatment and support for adults with drug and alcohol problems, ranging from advice and information to structured treatment programmes, from nine hubs across the county.
  • The Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Service for Hertfordshire (A-DASH) provides support for young people with a drug and/or alcohol problem.
  • TalktoFrank is a free helpline and also provides information online.
  • NHS Choices has information and advice about drugs and health.
  • Information about health for young people in their area.
  • Please visit our drugs page for more information.

Your Interactive Road Map to drug and alcohol information, treatment and recovery.


A Drugs and Alcohol Needs Assessment for Hertfordshire was completed in December 2015.


After the completion of the Drugs and Alcohol Needs Assessment, the authority created a Drugs and Alcohol Strategy for 2016-19. 


The University of Glasgow provides an annual estimate of prevalence for drug misuse in Hertfordshire. The estimate for opiate and crack cocaine users in Hertfordshire is 3,355 ( 4.6 per 1,000 adults (aged 15-64)). Prevalence for alcohol is currently unknown, but historical data suggests that one in four of Hertfordshire?s adults drink at dangerous levels, whilst one in five are dependent drinkers.

Treatment data

Hertfordshire has 3,987 adults in effective structured treatment

  • Drugs: 2010/11: 2,373 increasing to 2,634 in 2013/14
  • Alcohol: 2010/11: 1,760, reducing to 1,353 in 2013/14

We recognise that there remains a concerted effort to increase the number of adults in structured treatment for drug misuse. Intelligence and feedback suggests that the reducing numbers in structured treatment for alcohol is linked to increased availability and uptake of non-structured services and harm reduction approaches for alcohol, thereby reducing the need for more intensive services. 


In 2013/14, a total of 1,830 adults exited structured treatment. 1,085 (59.3%) did so in a planned way. The majority of these (50%, 542) were for alcohol, with the remaining 50% split amongst opiate users (179), non-opiate users (164) and alcohol and non-opiate (200).

For further information please see the JSNA.


The Recovery and Integration, Training and Education (R.I.T.E) service was commissioned by Hertfordshire Joint Commissioning Team (PCT's and Adult Care Services) to provide an innovative framework to ensure effective and responsive workforce development within the Mental Health and Substance Misuse sectors.

Herts R.I.T.E. is delivered by a Consortium consisting of three local charities; Druglink, Mind in Mid Herts & Herts Mind Network; underpinned by consultation with all stake holders directly and indirectly engaging service user and carer groups.

Herts R.I.T.E. offers flexible training to meet the needs of Hertfordshire's substance misuse and mental health workforce, carers and service users. Whilst some of our courses our aimed at staff and others are more tailored to service users and carers all our courses are open to all. Our calendared training is delivered at locations across Hertfordshire and we also offer the option of in-house training.

Herts R.I.T.E. also offers innovative and accessible e-Learning modules, quarterly Master Classes hosted by national and international experts and sends out a monthly Newsletter.

For further information and to book a course please go to drug link training

Campaigns and initiatives

Parental Awareness Programme

As part of the Young People Substance Misuse plan, HCC have commissioned a programme of parental awareness sessions and accompanying materials, to be delivered in targeted schools where substance misuse may be or become a particular problem. The programme will be delivered by 31st March 2016 and should be delivered in at least 50 schools. It aims to increase the knowledge of parents with regards to substance misuse helping them to feel more confident in taking action to prevent their children from misusing substances. Sessions will also offer informal advice to individual parents on how to take action to prevent their child misusing substances in future and how to deal with a child involved in substance misuse.

The programme will be accompanied by standalone materials that are visually attractive to parents and easy to read, providing basic information about substance misuse, particularly alcohol, cannabis and Novel Psychoactive Substances. The materials will also include tips and advice to parents on how to have a positive conversation with their child about substance misuse, and how to encourage their children to make good choices.

As part of the programme, a toolkit for schools will be produced which can be placed on the Hertfordshire Grid for Learning website, enabling schools to run their own parental awareness sessions in future.


After the completion of the Drugs and Alcohol Needs Assessment, the authority created a Drugs and Alcohol Strategy for 2016-19.  You can read this strategy here.