Experts are calling for the UK Government to take addiction seriously after reports reveals the extent of Britain’s drugs crisis.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that drug deaths in the UK are at the highest level on record, with cocaine-related deaths doubling in the last three years.
And the European Drug Report revealed that almost 40 per cent of drug overdose deaths in the EU occurred in the UK.
‘Dereliction of duty’
Freedom of Information requests showed that since 2014, 30 residential rehabilitation centres have closed, with one in five local authorities cutting funding for addiction services by more than a third, and some cutting by more than 50 per cent.
Andy Cook, CEO of The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) said: “There has been a clear and worrying correlation between the recent reductions in addiction funding and the increase in drug-related deaths.
“Recovery is earned through an enormous test of character and emotional determination. We should be doing all we can to support those going through this process.
“It is a dereliction of duty that rehabilitation centres are turning away those in need due to a lack of funding.”
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader and founder of the CSJ, said the scale of the addiction problem in the UK is “deeply worrying”.
He said: “Whether through gambling, drugs or alcoholism, addiction courses through society.
“The elderly have been exposed to an increased risk of prescription opioid addiction and too many of the 55,000 children defined as problem gamblers are aged just 11 years old.”
He added that “addiction entrenches disadvantage, deepening the woes of poorer families disproportionately”, and that it is “responsible for mental health issues, homelessness and domestic violence”.
The CSJ report called on the Government to create a Prevention and Recovery Agency to formulate a single addiction strategy that would be implemented nationwide.
The think tank said it was “simply not good enough” to say the country cannot afford to help treat addicts, and said funding should be provided from central taxation.
It also suggested that a gambling levy and more taxation of alcohol could help to provide extra funding for addiction services.