Developing a Drug and Alcohol Strategy for Greater Manchester

Drugs and alcohol are everybody’s business. Drugs and alcohol misuse impacts on the health and wellbeing of our residents, the safety of our communities, and the vibrancy and economic future of our town centres and night time economies.

As well as causing health problems, such as cancer, liver cirrhosis and heart disease, we know that alcohol affects the well-being of families, and is a major contributor to domestic abuse, violent crime and public disorder. We know that the issues caused by alcohol are not simply about people becoming dependent and that too many people may be unaware that they are drinking to harmful levels.

We also know that new types of drug users are emerging – they are younger, more likely to take different types of drugs (including new ones), and are more likely to buy drugs online. We also know that street drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy have become stronger, purer, and therefore more dangerous. There are more types of drugs being misused than ever before, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs, image and performance enhancing drugs such as steroids, and a range of more recently formulated drugs known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS).

Therefore, it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure we minimise the potential risks and harms they cause. We want this strategy to tackle these challenges head on, so that we have fewer deaths and hospital admissions, more people in recovery and much less cost to our public services.

Read more about the extent and impact of drug and alcohol misuse in Greater ManchesterMore Information

Drugs and alcohol kills more Greater Manchester residents than the national average, and places a strain on public services.
  • There were 1,203 alcohol-related deaths between 2014 and 2016 – that’s 426 more than the national average.
  • There were 480 drug-related deaths between 2015 and 2017 – that’s 136 more than the national average – and a 74% increase over the last 10 years.
  • Alcohol-related hospital admissions for under 18s is 40% higher than the national average.
  • Alcohol causes health problems such as cancer, liver cirrhosis and heart disease. There were 22,000 admissions to hospital for alcohol-specific conditions in 2016/17– that’s 53% higher than the national average.
  • Alcohol-specific hospital admissions costs our city-region around £43m. If the Greater Manchester rate was the same as England, this would results in over 7,500 fewer admissions and savings of around £15m per year.
  • 75% more people claim Incapacity Benefit where Alcoholic Misuse is given as the main disabling condition. If our figure was the same as the national average, 1,715 fewer people would claim the benefit, which would save around £16m per year.
  • The overall financial cost of alcohol to Greater Manchester is significant. It is estimated that expenditure on alcohol-related crime, health, worklessness and social care costs amount to £1.3bn per annum – approaching £500 per resident. 

Why We Are Consulting

In order to get this far in developing the Greater Manchester Drug and Alcohol Strategy, we have worked extensively with people working in criminal justice (such as the police and Heads of Community Safety), those working in health (such as Directors of Public Health, Substance Misuse Commissioners and Public Health England), as well as people working for relevant charities, and of course those who have personal experience of the harms caused by drugs and alcohol.

Now we want to find out whether what we have developed so far chimes with what you think. Our Greater Manchester is a place where all voices are heard and where, working together, we can shape our future. Therefore, we would like to understand your views on how we can – together – create a strategy that will significantly reduce the risks and harms caused by drugs and alcohol.