Developing a Drug and Alcohol Strategy for Greater Manchester

Closed 13 Jan 2019

Opened 12 Dec 2018

Feedback updated 25 Mar 2020

We asked

This consultation asked for views on the vision, themes and commitments in the draft Greater Manchester Drug and Alcohol Strategy.

The proposed vision for the strategy was:

To make Greater Manchester a place where everyone can have the best start in life, live well and age well, safe from the harms caused by drugs and alcohol: 

  • A place where children, young people and families have the best start in life and future generations grow up protected from the impact of drug and alcohol misuse.
  • A place where people who drink alcohol choose to do so responsibly and safely.
  • A place where people are empowered to avoid using drugs and alcohol to cope with adversity and the stresses and strains of life.
  • A place where our services and communities work together to build resilience and address the harms caused by drugs and alcohol.
  • A place where individuals who develop drug and alcohol problems can recover and live fulfilling lives in strong resilient communities.

 The six themes for the strategy were: 

  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Reducing drug and alcohol related harm
  • Building recovery in communities
  • Reducing drug and alcohol related crime and disorder
  • Managing availability and accessibility
  • Establishing diverse, vibrant and safe night time economies

You said

A total of 452 responses were received, 340 from individuals and 77 responded on behalf of an organisation (the remainder preferred not to say or did not answer the question). Of these:  

  • 92% of respondents agreed the vision was right (56% strongly agreed and 36% agree). 
  • 91% of respondents agreed the themes were right (46% strongly agreed and 45% agree). 

The feedback made it clear that drugs and alcohol should be seen as everybody’s business and that the focus should be on encouraging people to behave safely and responsibly. There was also support for our approach which emphasises people’s strengths and assets and the need for services and communities to work together to address drug and alcohol problems inclusive of criminal related activity. Respondents welcomed that the strategy included children and young people and placed emphasis on prevention and early intervention.

There were some concerns expressed about whether we have the resources to deliver the strategy.  These realistic concerns underline the need to continue the process of public sector reform that the strategy emphasises and ensure that all our services work better together. 

There was also concern that the strategy does not give consider the specific needs of communities of identity and interest (e.g. sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity), therefore we have made sure this is considered in the main narrative of the strategy and will ensure it is a key feature in the strategy’s implementation plan.

Many respondents took the opportunity to share that they feel unsafe at night in areas where pubs and clubs are concentrated and on public transport.  Alongside this there was support for a conversation with businesses about responsible trading and social accountability with many saying we should require, enforce or regulate this. 

We did

Our vision and themes were positively received and are contained in full in the final version of the Greater Manchester Drug and Alcohol Strategy which was approved by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on 29 March 2019. It combines emphasis on addressing the underlying causes of drug and alcohol problems, ensuring that the information we provide around drug and alcohol use is accurate and credible, and reducing stigma that may deter those with problems from seeking help. 

The final strategy can be accessed here:


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.

More 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 your views matter

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.


  • General public
  • Community, voluntary sector and social enterprises
  • Public sector partners


  • Substance misuse