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Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Alcohol and drug recovery
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
About Public Health England
Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working
with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally
autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health.
Public Health England
133-155 Waterloo Road
Wellington House
London SE1 8UG
Tel: 020 7654 8000
Twitter: @PHE_uk
© Crown copyright 2013
You may re-use this information (excluding logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open
Government Licence v2.0. To view this licence, visit OGL or email [email protected] Where we have
identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned. Any
enquiries regarding this publication should be sent to [email protected]
Published December 2013
PHE publications gateway number: 2013366
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
A brief user guide
Policy background
One of Public Health England’s (PHE) key priorities is to improve recovery rates from drug dependency. To achieve this, a
commitment has been made to increase the number of areas that have fostered effective links between treatment services
and relevant community and mutual aid groups (see Annexes 5 & 6 for a list of groups) to enhance social integration and
About this tool
This self-assessment tool has been developed to support local authority partnerships to improve their understanding of the
availability of mutual aid locally, to identify any gaps that may exist and to highlight any potential barriers that may need to
be overcome. The information gathered as a result of its undertaking will enable partnerships to develop a local action plan
that ensures they are taking steps towards fostering effective links between treatment services and local mutual aid groups,
and ensuring that all clients have the opportunity and encouragement to access a mutual aid programme of their choice.
Who should use this self-assessment tool
It is suggested that local commissioners of alcohol and drug services lead on this mutual aid self-assessment. The quality of
the self-assessment is likely to be enhanced by completing it in close collaboration with local treatment providers, service
user representatives and where possible representatives of local mutual aid groups.
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Support in using this tool
Support in using this self-assessment tool can be provided by the alcohol and drugs teams at your local PHE centres. You
should contact the head of alcohol and drugs at your local PHE centre in the first instance. Additional support can be
provided by PHE’s health and wellbeing directorate national recovery strategic lead, where necessary.
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Comments/supporting evidence
Keeping an up to date record of
the mutual aid groups available
is a task that is prioritised
locally (see annex 5 & 6 for
web links to this information)
The meeting schedule for each
mutual aid group is known by
a) the local partnership, b) local
providers (see annex 1)
Treatment providers make their
premises available to mutual
aid groups so that meetings
can be held and new meetings
encouraged to start
Service users can access a
mutual aid meeting 7-days a
week, should they choose
Service users have sufficient
choice of mutual aid
programmes to attend
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Comments/supporting evidence
Promoting mutual aid
A current list of meetings, for each mutual aid
2.1 organisation, is available to service users from
every local treatment provider
Mutual aid group literature is available to
service users at each local treatment provider
Treatment staff discuss the benefits of mutual
2.3 aid programmes with service users at
assessment, review and during keyworking
sessions, where appropriate
Recovery is visible: service users have the
opportunity to speak with group members and
see the benefits of mutual aid programmes to
their recovery
Treatment providers invite MA group members
2.5 into their service to talk to service users about
their programmes of recovery (see annex 3 for
further information)
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Comments/supporting evidence
Leadership & workforce
There is clear leadership of the recovery agenda with
local areas having established recovery champions at
three levels (strategic, therapeutic, community).
For more information and definitions of recovery
champions, see the National Drug Strategy 2010
There is a link between the local authority’s strategic
public health lead and representatives of local mutual
aid groups
All alcohol and drug keyworkers know who to contact
for information and support around mutual aid and
how to make contact with them. This may be the
providers or the local area’s therapeutic or community
recovery champion depending on the type of
information and support required.
Treatment staff are sufficiently knowledgeable about
the mutual aid programmes that are locally available,
eg, philosophy, programme content, structure and
format of meetings, etc
Treatment providers invite mutual aid group members
to the service to talk to staff about their programmes
of recovery (see annex 3 for who to contact in each
mutual aid organisation)
Treatment staff are encouraged and afforded the time
to attend meetings, as appropriate
Training on mutual aid is provided to treatment staff
by local recovery champions or other means
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Comments/supporting evidence
Treatment providers are aware of and
adopt the three essential stages for
facilitating access to mutual aid. These
are described in brief in the Evidence
to Practice briefing on the Recovery
Resources web page and set out in
detail in the Facilitating access to
mutual aid (FAMA) guidance document
Treatment providers hold explicit and
structured conversations with service
users and set care-planned goals
around attending meetings and
engaging in programmes
Treatment providers have staff who are
trained to facilitate engagement with
specific mutual aid organisations
through specialised protocol-based
interventions (eg, SMART Recovery
and 12-Step Facilitation)
There are arrangements in place for
service users to be accompanied to
meetings, where necessary
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Comments/supporting evidence
Local strategic planning and monitoring
Expectations around mutual aid are clearly set
out in local service specifications
Mutual aid is considered, from an asset based
community development (ABCD) perspective
within local strategic plans and needs
Local mutual aid representatives, who are
responsible for informing professionals and the
public about what they do are invited to
steering groups and other relevant local forums
Referrals to mutual aid and peer support are
monitored using NDTMS data. See recovery
support intervention and sub-interventions in
NDTMS core data set-J
Commissioners and treatment providers are
aware of the proportion of service users being
referred to mutual aid from their services
Of those referred to mutual aid, treatment
providers conduct periodic follow-ups to
5.5 understand a) if the service user attended b)
how frequently they attend c) how helpful
mutual aid has been
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Annex 1: availability of mutual aid group meetings
Number of meetings
What groups are available
SMART Recovery
Alcoholics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous
Cocaine Anonymous
Drug Addicts Anonymous
Marijuana Anonymous
Families Anonymous
Local community-based
recovery networks
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Annex 2: availability of local community-based recovery
Local community-based
recovery networks
Name of local recovery group
Number of meetings
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Annex 3: service positions
Mutual aid organisation
Alcoholics Anonymous
Service position
Public Information Liaison
Health Liaison
Employment Liaison
Armed services Liaison
Prisons Liaison
Probation/criminal justice
service liaison
Narcotics Anonymous
Public Information
Hospitals and Institutions
Cocaine Anonymous
Brief description
The aim of PI is to improve communications with professionals and
the public sector. PI teams will make formal presentations at
seminars and conferences and give in-house training sessions or
staff talks on a regular basis
Working with hospital and treatment centre staff, and all who work
with people with alcohol problems, including individual contact with
service users
Dialogue with management and human resource teams in the
understanding of alcoholism and contact with employees who have a
drink problem
Members who are experienced in the armed services provide talks
about the programme of recovery and the availability of worldwide
Prison visits and the holding of AA meetings for inmates
Providing an introduction to AA meetings for people who are
supervised in the community by the probation service
The aim of UKPI is increasing awareness of the existence and
effectiveness of NA among the general public and also among
professionals whose work brings them into contact with addicts in
the UK
NA members hold meetings in treatment centres and detox units,
hospitals, young offenders institutions, secure units and prisons to
carry the message of recovery
Public Information
Hospitals and Institutions
CA’s primary purpose is to carry the message of recovery to the
addict who still suffers. One way we do this is by holding meetings in
hospitals and institutions for people who are not able to attend
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Drug Addicts Anonymous
Information for professionals
outside meetings
An information for professionals guide is freely available from the
DAA website. DAA actively seek links with professionals and we are
happy to meet with and provide information to anyone who is
interested in how we can help people to stop using drugs.
Annex 4: useful resources
NICE guidelines
NICE (2007) Drug misuse: psychosocial interventions. NICE clinical guideline 51. London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
NICE (2011) Alcohol use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence. NICE clinical guideline 115. London:
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
NICE (2012) Quality standard for drug use disorders. NICE quality standard 23. London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
Public Health England
PHE (2013) Improving Mutual Aid Engagement: a strategic action plan for supporting the development of local mutual aid networks
PHE (2013) Facilitating Access to Mutual Aid: Three essential stages for helping clients access appropriate mutual aid support
PHE (2013) JSNA support packs JSNA support pack for commissioners of recovery communities 2013 [NTA, 2013]
NTA, (2012) Helping clients to access and engage with mutual aid. Turning evidence into practice briefing
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Mutual aid self-assessment tool
Annex 5: mutual aid groups for people who use
Mutual aid group
SMART Recovery
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
Drug Addicts Anonymous
Marijuana Anonymous (MA)
Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
SMART Recovery UK
Annex 6: mutual aid groups for relatives, friends and
others affected by someone’s drug/alcohol use
Mutual aid group
Families Anonymous (FA)

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