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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

All the drug treatment news

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The new drug treatment stats reveal some surprising trends...

Drug Treatment in 2013

[mks_dropcap style=”squared”]T[/mks_dropcap]he latest drug treatment statistics (published 6 November 2013) make for surprisingly interesting reading. There’s plenty of good news, but some bad news too.

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The Good News

[mks_dropcap style=”squared”]T[/mks_dropcap]he best bit of good news is that the overall number of people in drug treatment fell again. 98% of people got into treatment in less than 3 weeks, so numbers haven’t gone down because of cuts in services, but because of a drop in demand.

Not only did overall numbers fall, but the number of people starting treatment for heroin and crack cocaine fell too, particularly among younger people.

This does leave drug treatment services with a challenge though.  The over 40s are now the largest group both starting and receiving treatment. Many are older heroin users who have failing health and addiction problems entrenched over many years of use. This group is very hard to get – and keep – off drugs.

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New Trends

 [mks_dropcap style=”squared”]T[/mks_dropcap]he number of people seeking help for “club drugs” remains small but has grown steadily over the last seven years as the chart below shows:

drug trends

The increase in people seeking help with their mephedrone use is particularly noticeable.

The other interesting new trend is the drug profile of those seeking help. Seven years ago there were two opiate users for every one non-opiate user who sought treatment. Last year about 63% of those approaching drug services for the first time were NOT heroin users.

Drug treatment agencies are starting to deal with a noticeably different client group.

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Bad News

[mks_dropcap style=”squared”]T[/mks_dropcap]he bad news is of a somewhat surprising nature. The proportion of the treatment population successfully completing their treatment programme remains unchanged from the previous year at 15%.

However, this masks a rather worrying finding – that successful completion rates vary massively according to where you live – from 7% of service users to 35%.

This is an extreme version of the postcode lottery – people in some parts of the country are [mks_highlight color=”#729abf”]FIVE times less likely[/mks_highlight] to complete treatment – imagine the media furore if that was the case for hip replacements or lung cancer.

 

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