FEARS have been raised over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic following an increased demand for treatment for drugs and alcohol misuse.

A new contract for a substance misuse recovery service has been awarded following approval by the council’s cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday.

A report seeking approval to award the contract for the adult community-based recovery service to the preferred provider following a tendering process came before members. The current contract ends on March 31 this year.

Cllr Anthony Burns, cabinet member for wellbeing, culture and heritage, said: “There are around 1,500 people currently in treatment for their drug and alcohol use in the borough but worryingly there are around 70 per cent of those using alcohol and drugs in the borough not in treatment currently.

“And the Covid pandemic hasn’t helped because in 2020 we saw an increase in alcohol consumption nationally, particularly in those groups already drinking heavily and locally we have seen a recent rise in demand for treatment and support for alcohol misuse and the use of drugs too.”

The service supports individuals and families, with varying levels of need – and “strives to address the stigma” associated with drugs and alcohol misuse.

The tendering process, which ran from July 2021, included feedback from service users about the service and a provider engagement event.

The cabinet was recommended to consider the recommendations set out in a Part 2 report – which will be discussed in private – to award the contract.