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we're here to help people whose lives are affected by drugs

Service user involvement

User involvement allows user's opinions to be voiced, listened to, and acted upon.

Asking users for their views on drug services, local issues that may affect them, and on what works and what doesn't, makes sense. It helps to ensure that drug services are working effectively and are useful to the people who use them. This is a new approach, which allows people at ground level to make changes that will benefit themselves and others.

Who wants to see user involvement and why?

U.K Government

The NHS and social care act 2001 states that every NHS body, including drug treatment services, have a statutory duty to consult and involve patients and the public in it's activities. This came into force in January 2003.

National Treatment Agency (NTA)

The NTA is a special health authority set up in 2001 to oversee drug treatment. Money is allocated to Drug Action Teams (DAT) s by the NTA to buy local treatment services. DAT's can decide how to spend the money but are answerable to the NTA and have to keep in line with the government's ten-year drug strategy.

The NTA:

  • Recognises that users have the right to be involved in activities that effect their health and well being
  • Respects the unique expertise and experience of drug users/ex users
  • Recognises the health, self esteem and other personal benefits that user involvement can bring
  • Appointed a user/carer lead
  • Set up an advisory group on user issues
  • Requested that DAT's include and prove user consultation on treatment plans

Is currently working on a strategy which will:

  • Ensure that drug treatment services are accountable to service users
  • Create more opportunities for those who use, want to use/or have used the treatment system to get involved
  • Attempt to ensure that specialist drug treatment services are independently monitored
  • Be flexible and based on what works

DAT Commissioners

DATs should be consulting with users as a matter of course. DATs have to submit treatment plans on a yearly basis to the NTA. You can request to see the treatment plan for your area as this information is in the public domain.

The treatment plan is split into planning grids (i.e. sections) with targets. Planning grid eight is about user involvement. Each DAT has to fill in this section stating how it's ensuring the ongoing involvement of service users in the DAT treatment plan process.

Greater user involvement in planning and developing services is crucial and will lead to more effective and accessible services. DATs should also ensure that service users are given the opportunity to feedback and advice on the design of the services they use.

DATs should commit to fully resource representative user involvement in their local areas.

Service providers

Service provider’s want and need feedback on the services they offer so they can become more responsive to the people who use them (users, clients, and customers). Improved communication between users and services enables services to adapt to trends and changes. It is also important that providers consult with those not using services in order to establish the reason for this. If you are asked to respond to a questionnaire by your treatment provider try to take the time to answer the questions, be honest, fair and as specific about problems as you can be.  

User Groups

Planners and buyers of drug services from the government, regional bodies, local DATs and service providers are requested to consult with users. An effective user led organisation can be a powerful body.

It can:

  • Campaign for change
  • Represent the views of local users
  • Be user focused and can empathise with users
  • Provide a ground level information and advice for users
  • Provide peer led services

(Services run for users by users/ex users) Relapse prevention workshops, Peer Led advocacy, Harm Reduction Groups, Women's user led support groups, possibilities are endless.


 Here are some of the benefits which users can expect:

  • More users will get to know that they have rights and what they are
  • They will see better quality services
  • They can become fully involved in planning their own care and so receive better treatment tailored to personal need
  • They will have greater access to advocacy services
  • They can make changes that will benefit others
  • They will achieve personal development

Do you have skills you want to share? 

Follow the link to the hiwecanhelp Flicker photo workshop & photo sharing page, what can you add?

Where can I access a camera? 

If you would like to start taking photos but don’t have access to a camera right away it a good idea to get a simple disposable one to start with.  The disposal has come a long way and can take some decent shots. If you are going to give photography a go with one of there don’t expect a miracle, follow these steps to get the best from a cheap bit of kit, 

Take your photos in good light 

Try not to shoot too far away from your subject 

Keep as still as you can when taking the shot

If you enjoy this outing with the camera ask your local drug treatment service if they are running day programmes that could start a course.  If the service has a stock of cameras you can take part and use the hi flicker site to prompt learning.  

Cameras come in all shapes and sizes and can cost anything from £15 to £5,000 and more.  If your camera has more than 5 mega pixels it should be good enough to enlarge the photo to a decent size and quality.  

If you want to gain more skills, support or need some help to get a project off the ground contact 

Enjoy what you do. 

A taste of what the hi photography tutorial has to offer, get involved and share your talent.

A taste of what the hi photography tutorial has to offer, get involved and share your talent.

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