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RURAL AREAS RELUCTANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE DRUGS MISUSE

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Rural communities show a marked reluctance to acknowledge drugs ...
Rural communities show a marked reluctance to acknowledge drugs

misuse as a problem, a home office drugs prevention initiative report

reveals.

According to the report, Drugs Prevention in Rural Areas: An

Evaluation Report drugs availability has increased in rural areas

and, in keeping with national trends, cannabis is the drug most

commonly used.

However, it is possible to overcome these, and other rural specific

problems, and establish effective, sustainable, community based

interventions, the report concludes.

The study also found that:

- there is low awareness of drugs services in rural areas, and often

poor provision

- the nature and extent of drugs use varies within given areas

- the fear of being labelled a drug user may help to reduce drug

misuse, but also helps to ensure it is more underground, and

therefore more difficult to counter

- service providers have problems in finding suitable premises,

recruiting, training and managing workers, and difficulty in

supporting isolated workers

- a broad based approach placing drugs issues within wider social

concerns about community safety and family problems, and building on

existing community structures, is more likely to be successful

The report is aimed at policy makers, purchasers, providers and

practitioners. It also reviews other rural drug prevention projects

and the literature on drugs prevention in rural areas.

Home office minister George Howarth said:

'This home office report is by far the most substantial study

of its kind ever undertaken in this country.

'It includes an evaluation of projects, a review of the

literature and a check-list of good practice for rural drug

prevention work and shows that some special factors need to be taken

into account in drug prevention work in rural settings

'I have sent a copy to Keith Hellawell, the UK anti-drugs

co-ordinator, so that this new evidence can be incorporated into the

work he is taking forward on the drugs strategy.'

NOTES

1. 'Drugs Prevention in Rural Areas: An Evaluation Report' was

written by Sheila Henderson, a freelance researcher and consultant

specialising in qualitative research and evaluation in illicit drug

use field. She has worked for Institute for the Study of Drug

Dependency, other drug agencies, charities and regional and national

government bodies.

2. The report is an independent evaluation of four substantial DPI

projects operating in rural areas: the Somerset Parents' and Rural

Communities (SPARC) project; the Substance Misuse Prevention

Development in Uttlesford, Essex; the Windmill Centre Drugs Education

Project, Castle Donington; and the Young People's Mobile Advice and

Information Programme, in East and West Sussex. The study took

place for one year between Autumn 1996 and Autumn 1997.

3. The Drugs Prevention Initiative's national programme runs until

March 1999; more than 70 local projects have been designed and are

being independently evaluated to show what communities can do in

response to drug problems.

4. Members of the public can obtain free copies of the report from

Central Drugs Prevention Unit, Home Office, Room 354, Horseferry

House, Dean Ryle Street, London SW1P 2AW, Tel. 0171-217 8631.

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