In the middle years of the 1980s some of the new statutory services for problem drug takers started calling themselves Community Drug Teams (CDTs). This title reflected the similarity between their aspirations and those of other ‘Community’ Teams, particularly Community Alcohol Teams (CATs) which had developed during the previous few years. It is too early to provide a comprehensive description and evaluation of these services; this chapter looks at three very different examples in order to provide a snapshot of their organisation, philosophy, and operation.
CDTs are staffed mainly by members of statutory services providing a mix of professions, and employed by different agencies. They differ from the longer-established drug clinics by not being tied to a hospital, although some teams are based in hospitals. Their main task is to provide a direct service, although training and consultancy may also be important activities. They complement pre-existing services, such as prescribing clinics and advisory services, but are often the only specialist service for drug takers, and frequently act as a ginger group for developing better services. They also tend to take a wider view of the type of help drug takers may require, away from a narrow medical view of detoxification, that may encompass health, housing, employment, and leisure.
During the 1960s and 1970s non-statutory services, particularly in London, set up day centres and street agencies, which presented alternatives and additions to the statutory services, and a focus away from the disease model and towards the individual’s problems. Three major roles of street agencies are advocacy on behalf of drug users, direct counselling or advice to users and their families, and