Dramatic Fall in Heroin and Crack Addicts
- 07 Mar
The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) found that the number of people aged under 35 using heroin and crack in England has fallen.
The research shows that this is linked to the treatment system in England, which has largely reduced the number of people addicted.
The NTA have found in their report Falling Drug Use: The Impact of Treatment, there were 298,752 users of heroin and crack cocaine in 2010/11. This is the lowest number since the agency launched 12 years ago.
Drug related crime has also fallen, and NTA figures predict they have prevented around 4.9 million drug related offences in 2010-11.
As of April, the NTA will no longer be looking after this, but local authorities will be given grants from Public Health England (PHE) to spend on public health services, including substance misuse treatment.
Paul Hayes, chief executive of the NTA, said the use of the most dangerous drugs is falling dramatically, with no sign that they are just moving on to 'legal highs'.
However, the NTA found that those aged over 35 being treated for drug use is increasing, as this can be more difficult to treat due to the amount of time they have been addicted.
Mr Hayes said the amount of money invested in treatment when handed over to local authorities must be maintained:
The drug population is ageing. We have very few people in their teens and twenties using heroin and crack, and more in treatment in their 40s and 50s who are frailer, iller and more difficult to turn around in the system.
The strong recovery ambition called for in the government's 2010 drug strategy, and the investment in treatment, must be maintained if we are to consolidate and build on the gains we have made.
NTA director of delivery Rosanna O'Connor, who is set to become PHE's head of drugs and alcohol, said the wider benefits, such as aiding community and family cohesion, meant it was in the best interest of local authorities to maintain the current approach to funding.
The NTA's report stresses that strong leadership would be needed to continue the progress, as there will be strong competition for public health money and must not get compacent about the result as it can slip backwards without continued help.
Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1238929
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