Most of the 1,153 people in treatment for alcohol or drug use in Swindon have been using opiates, like heroin, or crack cocaine.

Of those in treatment for their use of substances, 50.1 per cent were using crack or opiates, while 30.4 per cent need it for their disordered use of alcohol, while 19.4 per cent have been using non-opiate substances.

The great majority, 63 per cent, of those in treatment are aged between 30 and 49, while 23 per cent are between 18 and 29 and 13 per cent over 50.

These figures are taken from Swindon Borough Council’s recently published Substance Use Disorder Strategy, which says early intervention to prevent people developing an unhealthy use of alcohol or other drugs is crucial.

The five main planks of the strategy are: prevention and early intervention; reducing drug- and alcohol-related harm and reversing the trend in drug-related deaths; reduction of health inequalities; promoting sustainable recovery and re-integration and to reduce substance use-related crime and anti-social behaviour.

The strategy says it will: “offer people currently using or affected by the use of substances routes to recovery, supporting reintegration through the promotion of positive behaviour change and sustainable recovery, whilst mitigating the harm caused by the use of substances.”

Under the heading of prevention and early intervention the strategy will: “making effective use of physical, on-line and digital resources to raise awareness and help people reduce their intake, ensuring prevention campaigns also reach young people not in mainstream education.”

It will focus help on those young people deemed to be at increased risk: “including looked after children, those leaving care, children with adverse childhood experiences, those not in education, employment or training. This will include children of substance misusing parents and those who have experienced domestic abuse.”

In order to cut harm and the numbers of deaths from drug use the plan is to make sure the drug naxalone, which can reverse the harmful effects of opioids, is available more easily.

People leaving prison will be helped to prevent re-offending, and the alcohol liaison service at Great Western Hospital will be kept and possible expanded to include other substances.

The council will work with partners top respond to networks and county lines gangs and will keep tabs on the availability of shops selling alcohol and control the number and density of them using the planning system.

Officers will also try to keep more young people out of the criminal justice system.

The council’s cabinet members for communities and joint working, Councillor Jim Grant said: “Swindon’s new strategy sets out the council’s ambition to reduce overall drug use within the borough to an all-time low.

“Substance use is a major public health issue which affects individuals, their families and our community. One of the key priorities outlined within the strategy is to reverse the trend in drug-related deaths. Over the past six months we have seen a reduction in the number of drug-related deaths in the borough, which is incredibly positive.

“We currently have a drug-related death rate of 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people, which is lower than the South West regional average of 5.7.

“Swindon’s drug-related death rate ranks third across all of the 14 local authorities in the South West.

“Any preventable death is a tragedy, but this strategy is a step in the right direction in supporting our localised approach to reversing the number of drug deaths across our borough. It also underpins the Combating Drugs Partnership’s focus and is closely aligned with our mission to reduce barriers, inequalities and disadvantages, while eliminating disparities in life expectancy.”