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Service user involvement: A guide for drug and alcohol commissioners, providers and service users

Service users’ involvement in the design and delivery of services has contributed significantly to the evolution of effective drug and alcohol treatment systems. This guide builds on guidance published by the National Treatment Agency (NTA) in 2006, looking at the evidence base, the different levels of involvement, and the impact of involvement on service users and treatment effectiveness.

There is enthusiasm for service user involvement (SUI) across the country, with a mixture of different approaches and design. This document is intended to be a useful guide to exploring and developing further SUI in your area.

Four different levels SUI are described:
- involvement in their own care or treatment plan
- involvement in strategic development and commissioning
- developing and delivering peer mentoring and support
- developing and delivering user-led, recovery-focused enterprises

Checklists are included to assist commissioners, providers and service users in the development of SUI, generally and at each level.

SUI can provide individuals with opportunities to gain experience, confidence, qualifications and skills, some of which can then be transferred to others. The training and support needs of service users and other staff are discussed.

The final section looks at the role played by service user led community developments in meeting the needs of particular groups.

There are many good examples of SUI across the country, and this guide draws on the skills and expertise that exist within those initiatives. Descriptions of user-focused services are included, illustrating how SUI is now seen as an opportunity and a resource to strengthen the recovery process, for individuals and communities.