Calderdale Council spends roughly £3.4 million per year to treat nearly 1,500 people suffering from some level of alcohol or drug misuse. That is a lot of money for a council with jurisdiction over a population of 200,000 people. Yet the council does not see the money as being ‘spent’; it prefers to look at it as an investment. Council representatives say they are actually saving money in the long run.

Drug and alcohol prevention and abuse programmes are the biggest expenditure within the Calderdale health budget. The money goes to support a number of drug and alcohol addiction recovery programmes, including the Basement Recovery Project in Halifax. The council’s Dean Wallace says that for every pound they invest, they save 4 to 5 pounds in return. The savings come by way of additional programmes and healthcare services that would otherwise be needed if Calderdale chose to ignore the drug and alcohol problems locally.

Wallace also told the Halifax Courier that they are concerned about more than just immediate recovery. They are also investing in providing opportunities for employment, volunteering, and housing. They say that it is not enough just to help someone stop using drugs or alcohol in the short term. They must be given something meaningful in their lives to prevent them from going back to the old ways.

Volunteering and employment fit that bill nicely. Both types of opportunities give recovering addicts a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. The opportunities also teach individuals that they can accomplish any goal they set their minds to. Being able to succeed in volunteer work or a job refocuses the individual’s attention toward being a productive member of society, rather than returning to a life of hopelessness.

Where housing is concerned, the council seeks to provide a stable environment in which recovering addicts can remain until they are able to manage to get a place of their own. Without a housing benefit, recovering addicts are very likely to return to the chaotic and enabling environment that contributed to their drug and alcohol problems previously.

A Comprehensive Approach

It would be very interesting to see the data measuring the success of the investments in Calderdale. At any rate, they seem to be on the right track by taking a comprehensive approach rather than just dealing with one or two aspects of the abuse and addiction problem. They are investing in programmes that seem focused on actually changing lives rather than just pacifying a few individual stakeholders.

It would be great if more councils and government agencies would follow the example set by Calderdale. Although we are gradually seeing improvement across the UK, there are still too many government programmes and policy makers continuing to use prescription drugs as a substitute for their illicit counterparts. As we know, substituting an illegal drug for a legal one does not change anything, other than making the government the supplier of choice among addicts.

Another thing Calderdale Council is quick to point out is that addiction is changing in the UK. People are less likely to use traditional drugs such as heroin and crack in light of the various legal highs that are now so cheap and widely available. These legal highs are new psychoactive substances that the medical community knows very little about. Treating abuse and addiction of these substances cannot rely on the old methods.

Addiction Helper wants to do our part by coming alongside you. If you are battling with drugs or alcohol, please call our 24-hour addiction recovery helpline so that we can assist you in getting appropriate treatment.


  1. Halifax Courier 
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