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3.1.7 Substance Use and Misuse

RELATED GUIDANCE

RUOK Guidance (Young Person’s Substance Misuse Team)

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Smoking and Looked After Children (including e-cigarettes) Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in November 2015 in respect of staff and smoking, (see Section 2.2, Cigarettes and Tobacco). Attention is drawn to the fact that from October 2015 it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under 18 yrs present and includes cars that are wholly or partly enclosed by a roof and someone sitting in the open doorway of a vehicle. Both the driver and the smoker could be fined £50).

Contents

1. Definition
2. Access/Use of Drugs and Substances
2.1 Purchasing Drugs or Substances
2.2 Cigarettes and Tobacco
2.3 Alcohol
2.4 Aerosols, Gas, Glue and Petrol
2.5 Controlled Drugs and Substances
3. Prevention and Planning
4. Emergency
5. Notifications and Recording


1. Definition

Drugs and Substances are defined as any substances that, when introduced to the body, create a change in perception and/or mood. They can also affect how the body functions - which may have a harmful effect upon a child. This includes:

Alcohol, Cigarettes, Tobacco, Aerosols, Gas, Glue, Magic Mushrooms (Amanita), Petrol, Solvents and all controlled substances such as Amphetamines, Barbiturates, Cannabis, Cocaine, Hallucinogens, Hashish and Narcotics.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs defines substance misuse as:

"…a condition which may cause an individual to experience social, psychological, physical or legal problems related to intoxication and / or regular excessive consumption, and / or dependence, as a consequence of their use of drugs or other chemical substances."


2. Access/use of Drugs and Substances

2.1 Purchasing/Obtaining Drugs Or Substances - General

All reasonable measures must be used to reduce or prevent children from obtaining drugs or substances which may harm them.

If it is known or suspected that children are obtaining products which may harm them, whether off the streets, from dealers or from traders of any kind, the Social Worker must be informed and a strategy adopted to reduce or prevent it.

This may include engaging or involving the supplier, if it is safe to do so.

If the problem persists or is serious, relevant specialists or bodies (e.g. Young Persons Substance Misuse Team), Trading Standards or the Police**.

**Re The Police: The Police should only be contacted in an emergency (e.g. where a child or other person is seriously at risk) or, if there is no immediate risk, after consulting a Manager.

2.2 Cigarettes And Tobacco

Staff may not smoke in the presence of children and may not purchase or give cigarettes, tobacco or the materials for making or lighting cigarettes or tobacco to children.

(Note that from October 2015 it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under 18 yrs present and includes cars that are wholly or partly enclosed by a roof and someone sitting in the open doorway of a vehicle. Both the driver and the smoker could be fined £50).

Guidance for Looked After Children is under review.  If you need advice on smoking and Looked After Children, please contact the Head of Service with responsibility  for Looked After Children.

(See Smoking and Looked After Children (including e-cigarettes) Procedure).

2.3 Alcohol

Staff/Carers must ensure that aerosols, gas, glue, petrol and similar substances are only used for the purpose they were designed for; and that all reasonable measures are taken to restrict their use to children who are known to pose no risk to themselves or others if they have access to them.

In foster Homes, the arrangements for the obtaining, storage or access to children of these substances must be outlined in the Carers’ Foster Care Agreement or Placement Plan/Placement Information Record for individual children.

In residential care, the arrangements for the obtaining, storage and use of these substances must be outlined in the Children’s Guide and/or individual children’s Placement Information Record/Placement Plan

2.4 Aerosols, Gas, Glue, And Petrol

Aerosols, gas, glue, petrol and other similar substances may only be used for the purpose they were designed for. Staff should take all reasonable measures to restrict their use to children who are known to pose a risk to themselves or others if they have access to such substances.

2.5 Controlled Drugs Or Substances

Under no circumstances may controlled drugs and substances, other than those prescribed by a medical practitioner, be accessible to children. Where it is necessary to keep such drugs/substances in family/children’s Homes, suitable arrangements should be made for their safe storage.


3. Prevention and Planning

The impact and effect of a child using or misusing any substance should be considered as part of the Strengthening Families Assessment or when s/he becomes Looked After. The Parental view of the behaviour and an assessment of the safeguards and harm minimisation strategies employed within the family should be understood and analysed.

The Home environment should be considered in terms of the availability of alcohol, aerosols, or drug using paraphernalia and the Parents ability to promote and maintain a safe Home environment.

The Social Worker should make reference to the child protection procedures as appropriate and determined by the level of risk the young person places themselves in.

All Staff/Carers should ensure that information, guidance and advice on the risks associated with harmful drugs and substances are available to children, depending on their age and level of understanding. Additionally, any child known or suspected to be participating in drug or substances misuse activities must be provided with the following:

  1. Targeted relevant information, guidance and advice to help reduce or prevent such risks;
  2. A strategy for managing the risk, outlined in their plan e.g. Child’s Plan, Family Support Plan or Placement Plan/Placement Information Record;
  3. As part of this strategy, consideration should also be given, through consultation with the child and Parent, to making referrals for specialist support and help children to access treatment, if appropriate.


4. Emergencies

If it is suspected that a child is misusing harmful drugs or substances and no strategy exists to reduce or prevent the behaviour, the child’s Social Worker should Work with the Parents/Carer and young person to develop a harm minimisation plan.

The actions that Staff/Carers take will be dependent on the circumstances and the degree of offence or injury that is likely, the Social Worker should make reference to the child protection procedures as necessary and appropriate depending on the level and immediacy of risk.

The overall responsibility of Staff/Carers is to protect children, themselves and others from injury and reduce or prevent the likelihood of criminal offences.

If any person is unconscious, in a fit, convulsing or otherwise seriously ill, emergency first aid should be given and an ambulance requested. The emergency services should be informed that there are suspicions of drug or solvent misuse.


5. Notifications and Recording

5.1 Notifications

Incidents of drug or substance misuse must be notified to the Supervising Social Worker and the child’s Social Worker at the first opportunity.

A decision about whether to notify the Parents will be taken by the Social Worker, in consultation with their Pod Team Manager.

If incident(s) are persistent or serious, consideration should be given to reviewing the child’s plan and/or seeking specialist advice.

5.2 Recording

To be updated later.

End