With the current economic downturn and corresponding cuts in budgets, many drug treatment services in the UK are under threat. As a response, the National Treatment Agency (NTA) has released interesting figures supporting the argument for continued investment in drug treatment.
The figures show that drug use is common across society. Around 1 in 3 (12.5 million adults) – has taken drugs at some point. 1 in 10 had taken them recently and 1 in 20 use drugs frequently.
Considering the known harms related to smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, the annual numbers of corresponding fatalities are given thus:
- 115,000 deaths are caused by smoking
- 35,000 deaths are caused by alcohol
- 1,600 deaths are caused by drugs
Currently it is estimated that 1.2 million people are affected by drug addiction in their family. Related costs to society include:
- £13,900,000,000 from crime each year
- £480,000, representing the lifetime crime and health bill for each injecting drug user
The NTA argues that by using effective drug treatment and working towards eliminating the number of drug users in society, outcomes will include:
- Safer communities
- reduced crime
- stabilised families
- Protection of public health
- fewer drug related deaths
- fewer blood borne viruses (HIV, Hepatitis C)
- a reduction on the burden to NHS
- Help to overcome addiction for drug users
- 255,000 people have been treated for drug addiction in England alone since 2006
In terms of public support, NTA figures show that:
- 75% say treatment is a sensible use of money
- 66% fear crime will increase without it
- 80% believe treatment makes society safer and better
What do you think?