Bright Spot for Drug Addiction
The Common's Home Affairs Select Committee report on drug policy shows some improvement in the battle against drug addiction.
The report shows that while not all methods of drug prevention have been effective, the evidence based prevention has proved effective.
The most notable positive outcome is the falling number of drug addicts in the last decade. Then number of young people seeking treatment for heroin and crack cocaine are also down. This, combined with a falling number of injection drug users means the UK should also see a decrease in the number of new HIV cases. Just as importantly, more people are seeking help for addiction. The number of people in recovery has significantly increased in recent years.
Currently there are around 300,000 heroin and crack addicts in England and 2.8 regular drug users. This is a substantial decrease from previous years. Much of this drop can be attributed to advances in the drug treatment services. These new treatments save lives and money. The National Audit Office found that for every £1 spent, on treatment, £2.5 was saved. This is great news for the government but the fight against addiction is by no means over.
Most of the current addicts fall into two groups, the poor and people over 40. The poor often start taking drugs as a way of escaping from harsh realities and end up trapped in an addiction. This is made worse because they may not have the resources to seek professional help and there is no safety net in place to help them break their addiction.
Addicts over 40 are another large group of drug users. They most likely became addicted in the 70's or 80's before many people knew the damage drug addiction can cause. These people are most likely addiction to heroin and have been using for decades. That makes it much harder to treat their addiction, and can leave them struggling with little hope of recovery.
As the fight against addiction continues, it is important to remember that these groups exist. While the overall number of addicts is going down, it is not the time to become complacent. The UK needs to continue to invest in addiction treatment if it hopes to prevent another rise in drug addiction.