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.”
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Jennifer Lawrence face palms Emma Watson at Christian Dior show in Paris
Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2014: Briton critically injured in San Fermin festival
Elephant 'cries' while being rescued after 50 years of abuse in India
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn