Drug and alcohol abuse are fuelling social breakdown in Britain, according to a new Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) report that criticises treatment being offered to many addicts.
The report, No Quick Fix, exposes the depth of the UK’s drug and alcohol problems and calls on authorities to galvanise efforts to help addicts on the road to recovery.
The report found that the UK has the highest rate of opiate (most commonly heroin) addiction in Europe and the highest lifetime use of amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy. More young people have used ‘legal highs’ in the UK than anywhere in Europe – representing one quarter of the European total.
Amongst women, alcohol dependence is higher in Britain than anywhere in Europe and for men it is seventh overall.
The CSJ was also highly critical that more than 40,000 people in England on substitute treatment (most commonly methadone) have been stranded on it for four years or more.
Researchers found that 55 per cent of English councils have slashed funding for residential treatment centres since 2010 – despite the Prime Minister arguing in favour of them when he came to power. The study found examples of charities providing excellent services, but said many of them lacked support.
The report also found that the UK has become a hub for websites selling ‘legal highs’, which were linked to the deaths of 52 people in England and Wales last year. Other websites give people the chance to mail order class A drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, the study found.
Alcohol costs society £21 billion and drugs cost £15 billion per year, but the CSJ argued that the human cost was much greater.
Christian Guy, CSJ Director, said: “Drug and alcohol abuse fuels poverty and deprivation, leading to family breakdown and child neglect, homelessness, crime, debt, and long-term worklessness. From its impact on children to its consequences for pensioners, dependency destroys lives, wrecks families and blights communities.”
No Quick Fix also said alcohol-related hospital admissions in England have doubled in a decade.
This report is part of the CSJ’s Breakthrough Britain II project and follows on from previous addiction studies, including: Breakthrough Britain: Addiction, Addicted Britain and a response to the Government's 2010 Drugs Strategy.