Britain winning fight against heroin and crack cocaine - but use of synthetic drugs such as mephedrone soars
Fewer than 300,000 people of any age now use the drugs in England
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Wednesday 06 March 2013
Britain is winning the war against heroin and crack cocaine with a 10 per cent fall in users over five years, the head of a leading drugs organisation said today.
Paul Hayes, chief executive of the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, said among under 35’s the numbers were “not falling, but plummeting” thanks to a “world class drug treatment system”.
But critics warned that while use of traditional drugs like heroin and cocaine was falling, use of synthetic drugs such as mephedrone was soaring – and more difficult to control.
Mr Hayes, speaking at the final press conference for the NTA before it is wound up and merged into Public Health England from 1 April, criticised Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg who said in December that Britain was “losing the war against drugs on an industrial scale.”
“If this is failure, I don’t know what success looks like,” Mr Hayes said.
The number of registered addicts was down below 300,000, the number injecting drugs was below 100,000 and treatment programmes had cut offending rates, preventing almost 5 million crimes.
Mr Hayes warned local authorities they must maintain funding for drug treatment after April 1 against competing priorities. “The public get it – they realise drug addiction is a major driver of crime and that treatment is not just benefiting the individual users, whom they may not like, but is also benefiting them.”
Martin Barnes, chief executive of Drugscope, said the decline was “encouraging evidence that the heroin epidemic of the 1980s was being reversed.”
“However, there can be absolutely no room for complacency. While overall drug use has fallen, new drugs and patterns of drug use are emerging, including new psychoactive substances and greater harms associated with so-called ‘club drugs’ such as ketamine, GBL and mephedrone.”
Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook CEO's one simple test for who to hire
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Saudi Arabia executions now at 'unprecedented rate' after kingdom kills four more in two days
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 4 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
- 5 Westboro Baptist Church couldn't picket Leonard Nimoy's funeral because they didn't know where it was