Liverpool celebrates one year of the ADDER accelerator programme

An addiction recovery programme is reducing harm of drug use to people and communities across the city.

Launched in July 2021, the Government’s ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery) programme has seen partners across Liverpool’s health and social care infrastructure working together to ensure that people are offered a health-based approach to tackling their drug use – helping divert them away from the criminal justice system.

Liverpool is one of 13 locations across the country to have received additional funding though the project and a key delivery partner in the city is With You – a leading UK drug, alcohol and mental health charity. They provide a free and confidential service, without judgement to people experiencing issues with drugs, alcohol or mental health.

Between July 2021 – July 2022 – over 2,500 people actively received treatment for issues with drugs and alcohol via With You services, with 238 people receiving treatment directly through the ADDER accelerator programme.

The programme is going from strength to strength, with expansion of services to include better access and availability of the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone.

The ‘Peer to peer naloxone programme’ will see a team of ‘peers’ (people with lived experience of drug and alcohol issues) proactively taking naloxone out on the streets and training people how to use it. Anyone who overdoses on an opiate should still be seen by emergency services, but naloxone buys vital time until that support arrives.

Additional funding now means that projects such the needle exchange programme, youth offender referrals and a sex workers healthcare hub are being extended until at least 2023-24 – enabling our partnership approach and treatment pathways to support service users in breaking the cycle and recognising that they can continue their recovery within the community.

Cabinet member for Social Care and Health at Liverpool City Council, Cllr Frazer Lake said “Through the excellent whole-system approach between enforcement, treatment and local authority partners, including prisons we have been able to increase our specialist drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation provision.

We recognise that problematic drug and alcohol use is interlinked to other underlying issues, and that sustained recovery can only be achieved once these difficulties have been addressed.

I’m incredibly proud by what’s been achieved through the ADDER Programme in its first year – something which is recognised nationally too, with the announcement of an additional two years of funding.

Our approach is underpinned by the “doing with, not doing to” – which is always a key part of any successful health intervention.”

Sarah Humphreys, Contract Manager at With You said: “We’re proud to announce that after just one year of running the ADDER Accelerator programme in Liverpool, we have already seen a 10.5% increase in the number of people actively receiving treatment in our services.

“This major investment into our front-line services has allowed us to realise many of our ambitions to improve the way we support people with their substance use. We’ve been able to use a whole system approach to develop an intensive treatment and rehabilitation system that strengthens partnership working with Merseyside Police, Merseycare NHSFT Trust and YMCA Together so that we can support more individuals, in communities and places that have previously been hard to reach.

“With the support and collaboration of key partners, for example Merseyside Police, we have been able to set up a sex workers healthcare hub to provide clinical interventions to individuals who have previously struggled to access specialist drug and alcohol services. We have now taken our service into the community, providing a needle exchange, naloxone training programme, one to one trauma informed psychosocial support and peer led support group sessions. As a result we have been able to support 48 women to make more informed choices to keep themselves safe and reduce risk.”

Jackie*, a service user from With You in Liverpool’s sex workers healthcare hub, said: “I had a quite good upbringing, but dad was a big drinker. As I got older I fell in with the wrong crowd. It escalated when I came to Liverpool. I ran away from a violent relationship. Then crack came into play and my life went downhill. I was sleeping at the front of the Albert Dock. I stole off anyone. My life was just downtrodden. Then I met Julie from With You, and Julie said I’m going to get you to a safe place.

“Since I’ve been with With You in Liverpool, I’ve not taken any drugs in nine months. I’ve become a recovery community champion and that let me work with girls in the red-light district where I was once a part of. I wake in the morning, I smile, I pay my bills. I’ve never paid a bill in my life. It makes me feel so amazing.”

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Liverpool Waterfront