Going viral 2020 will forever be remembered as the year COVID-19 transformed our lives. But one note of optimism was the way services immediately rose to the challenge of looking after their clients in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Read it in DDN Magazine JANUARY Research by St Mungo\u2019s finds that at least 12,000 homeless people went without much-needed drug and alcohol treatment, but rough sleepers would be facing more stark challenges as the months went on. FEBRUARY The long-awaited first part of Professor Dame Carol Black\u2019s drugs review states that a prolonged shortage of treatment funding has led to a loss of skills, expertise and capacity, while a \u2018much more violent\u2019 illegal drugs market has \u2018never caused greater harm\u2019. MARCH As COVID-19 hits hard, the government includes drug and alcohol staff in its definition of key workers, while services move to online models of delivery where they can and DDN takes the inevitable but painful decision to postpone its annual service user conference. APRIL With the sector, and the country, reeling from the impact of the pandemic, services scramble to keep up with the relentless pace of developments. \u2018We had a full business continuity plan set up on the afternoon the prime minister did his first big announcement,\u2019 Humankind\u2019s executive operations director Anna Headley tells DDN. \u2018It was out of date within an hour.\u2019 Alcohol Change UK finds that the stress of lockdown means a fifth of daily drinkers are now consuming even more. MAY With around 90 per cent of rough sleepers housed in temporary accommodation, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee urges the government not to miss the chance to end rough sleeping for good. Meanwhile, Collective Voice\u2019s Peter Keeling writes in DDN that while the sector\u2019s swift adaptation to the COVID landscape has been hugely impressive it\u2019s vital that developments like remote and digital delivery are seen as a \u2018welcome addition\u2019 \u2013 not a replacement. JUNE Two parliamentary reports within a fortnight call for an overhaul of gambling regulation, with the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee slamming the \u2018weak and complacent\u2019 oversight of the industry. \u2018What has emerged in evidence is a picture of a torpid, toothless regulator that doesn\u2019t seem terribly interested in either the harms it exists to reduce, or the means it might use to achieve that,\u2019 states committee chair Meg Hillier. JULY NHS Tayside provides a rare glimpse of good news when it becomes the world\u2019s first region to effectively eliminate hep C, while Northern Ireland announces a \u2018full consultation\u2019 on whether it will follow in the footsteps of Scotland and Wales by introducing MUP. AUGUST PHE becomes a COVID fall guy, with the government announcing its abolition to make way for the new National Institute for Health Protection \u2013 but no detail on what will happen to its drugs and alcohol remit. More than 80 organisations immediately issue a statement expressing their concern in the BMJ. \u2018Organisational change is difficult and can be damaging at the best of times,\u2019 it says. \u2018These are not the best of times.\u2019 SEPTEMBER The Royal College of Psychiatrists warns that services are not equipped to deal with the \u2018soaring numbers\u2019 of people drinking at high risk levels during the pandemic, and calls for an urgent multi-million pound funding boost. OCTOBER In what has become a grim annual milestone, England and Wales once again record their highest level of drug deaths at, 4,393. The pandemic had now worsened a \u2018perfect storm\u2019 of factors \u2013 including disinvestment and an ageing population \u2013 to reach a critical tipping point, warns Change Grow Live chief executive Mark Moody. NOVEMBER The spectacularly divisive US presidential election also sees a \u2018monumental victory\u2019 for drug policy reform as Oregon votes in favour of decriminalising personal possession of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine. A year on from the launch of Middlesbrough\u2019s heroin-assisted treatment pilot, clinical team lead Daniel Ahmed hails its \u2018dramatic impact\u2019, with 98 per cent attendance rates among long-term participants and offending levels slashed. DECEMBER As the year comes to an end, and optimism about a vaccine is tempered by the reimposition of tough restrictions on much of the UK, the sector \u2013 and the country \u2013 hopes that the worst might finally be over. DDN magazine will be back in print on Monday 1 February. Please get in touch to share your stories.