£50m to tackle substance abuse in Wales

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Media captionAlcohol and Class A drug use is estimated to cost Wales as much as £2bn a year in terms of its economic and social impact

More than £50m will be invested by the Welsh government in programmes to tackle substance misuse over the next year.

It is estimated 600 people die from the effects of alcohol and drugs in Wales every year.

Nearly half the money will go towards supporting a 10-year strategy, which still has three years to run.

Other money will go to individual projects, more detox facilities and treatment centres.


Image copyright NewLink Wales
Image caption Helping with lambing is one of the activities on the Footsteps to Recovery programme
Image copyright Newlink Wales
Image caption There is a range of social activities, new skills and hobbies on offer

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething made his announcement during a visit to Footsteps to Recovery, working in Cardiff and Barry.

As well as programmes to help people kick their addiction, it also offers after-care support.

This ranges from therapy, counselling and group activities to online and phone support.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Ministers say they are determined to reduce the impact drugs and alcohol have on people's lives
Image copyright Newlink Wales
Image caption People can choose activities and get help to access training, education and specialist counselling

Lindsay Bruce, chief executive of NewLink Wales, operates the service with two other agencies, Recovery Cymru and Solas.

"We offer pick and mix recovery - people can design their own care, they're the experts in what they're like and what they need.

"We had a group helping with lambing at St Fagans this week - an experience of bringing a new life into the world."

Image copyright NewLink Wales
Image caption There is also a course about to help them learn skills to get back into the workplace

The landscape for drugs has changed to include new psycho-addictive drugs (formerly known as legal highs).

"The users don't know what they're taking and the dealers don't know what they're selling," said Ms Bruce.

"When I started working 16 years ago it was crack and heroin."

Image copyright Footsteps
Image caption The three-to-five-year programme is coming to the end of its first year

Some of those putting drugs or alcohol behind them are helping others in the first stages.

Ms Bruce, also a former addict, said: "Volunteering is an integral part of recovery, that's being understood now, how you can help others and start feeling wonderful again."


  • £22m will address the priorities outlined in the Welsh government's 10-year strategy, Working Together to Reduce Harm
  • £17.1m to ring-fence health board budgets for substance misuse services
  • More than £5m to improve facilities such as residential treatment and detoxification centres and mobile outreach
  • £2.2m for a schools programme, set up in 2004, to educate children and young people about some of the dangers of substance misuse
  • £1m in specific drug and alcohol initiatives, such as the bilingual helpline Dan 24/7 and the Welsh national database for substance misuse contracts
  • £500,000 will be invested in Operation Tarian, a regional police-led task force covering south Wales, Gwent and Dyfed Powys

Mr Gething said: "The misuse of drugs, alcohol or other substances is still one of the most devastating ways in which people can harm themselves, their families and the communities in which they live. We are determined to tackle it."

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