A £3.4MILLION strategy for tackling drug and alcohol abuse in Blackburn with Darwen will concentrate on prevention and recovery from addiction.

Health chiefs said it will also tackle new trends in drug abuse as they emerge.

The new strategy will include:

  • Greater use of residential and specialist rehab units;
  • More non-residential and community rehab services;
  • Greater information for schools on the dangers of drugs and alcohol and how to access help;
  • More information on rehab and recovery services for those worried about addiction;
  • Better support for those recovering from alcohol and drug problems to find housing, employment and volunteering opportunities;
  • Greater support and information made available for families and friends of addicts.

Between 2011 and 2013 Blackburn with Darwen, and neighbouring boroughs Burnley, Hyndburn and Pendle, were all in the top six boroughs for drug deaths in England, according the the Office of National Statistics.

Responsibility for public health, including tackling ‘substance abuse’, was passed from the NHS to local councils in April 2013.

The inherited contracts for Blackburn with Darwen Council area are due to expire in March.

On Thursday the council’s executive board decided on a preferred contractor to take over this key legal responsibility following a review.

Councillors were told by borough health boss Mohammed Khan four tenders had been received and the chosen provider would now work with officers on a detailed contract before final sign-off.

He hoped services from other tendering groups services and existing providers would be included in sub-contracts.

He said: “The substance misuse service has been re-designed with the principles that it is integrated, more focussed on prevention, more able to respond to new challenges and trends and also able to become more efficient in delivery through a prime provider model.”

“The recovery-oriented integrated system for drugs and alcohol supports this approach and addresses both medical and social aspects.

“They include supporting people into employment, training and education.”

Currently seven different organisations have contracts to provide care and support to drug and alcohol addicts.

Under the new system EVOLVE in Exchange Street, Blackburn, will continue to be the base for adult treatment and recovery services.