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Britain is the addictions capital of Europe, new CSJ report warns

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.

Watch coverage of the report on BBC News and Sky News and read some of the reporting in: the Telegraph, Express, Independent, Mail, Sun, Observer, BBC online, Channel 4, Herald and Evening Standard.

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.

CSJ report exposes disadvantage in English education system

Groups of children are in danger of becoming an “educational underclass” as some attainment gaps in England widen, a new CSJ report has said.

Requires Improvement highlights how some children are arriving for their first day at school under-developed and already strides behind other pupils

The report, published this week, shows shocking examples of educational failure – more than 40 per cent of pupils leave school every year without A*-C grades in English and maths and over two million children attend schools that fall short of the official ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ ratings.

It also highlights how the gap in performance between poor white boys and the average for all pupils has widened.

The CSJ said: “The knock-on effect of educational failure can be catastrophic and in many communities it is a key driver of social breakdown and poverty.

"We need to take a close look at the reasons behind this growing inequality and reassess the measures we are taking to close the performance gap for those at the very bottom.”

The report, part of the CSJ’s Breakthrough Britain II project, received widespread media coverage. Policy Director Alex Burghart appeared on BBC London and BBC 5 Live’s Victoria Derbyshire show. The study was also covered by the Telegraph, Times, BBC online, Daily Mail, Express, Independent, the Sun and the Metro.

The CSJ has carried out numerous studies into educational failure including: No Excuses and Breakthrough Britain: Educational Failure.

Poverty in seaside towns under the spotlight following CSJ study

The CSJ has been at the heart of a debate on how to improve some of Britain’s seaside towns that are suffering severe social breakdown.

Turning the Tide, published last month, exposed how some of Britain’s best-known coastal towns have been gripped by poverty following major decline in domestic tourism over recent decades.

The CSJ welcomed a recent Government announcement that it would increase spending on seaside towns, through its Coastal Communities Fund. New data from the Office for National Statistics also highlighted decline in the former UK tourism hotspots.

Christian Guy appeared on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show to discuss potential solutions to poverty. Read further coverage via the BBC, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Express, Financial Times, Sun and Daily Mirror. Read Times columnist Libby Purves’ article on Turning the Tide here.