Drug Treatment in 2012

It’s nice to celebrate good news sometimes.

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse published their annual figures this week.

The headlines make good reading:

  • There has been a 4% drop in the total number of treatment in for drug use (with no drop in treatment capacity).
  • The number of young adults needing treatment for heroin is down almost two-thirds compared with 2005/6.
  • The average waiting time for treatment is down to five days from nine weeks back in 2001.

Of course, there are still major challenges.

There is a rump of long term dependent users stuck in treatment – the over 40’s now make up 31% of the adult treatment population.

The average age of people in treatment is increasing every year.

And, if you read very carefully, you can see that there’s a long way to go in terms of long term treatment success.

The fact that 47% service users of those who left treatment in 2011/12 were recorded as having completed treatment, being free of drug dependency and not using heroin or crack looks impressive.

However, NTA Chief Executive Paul Hayes, admitted at a recent conference that long term recovery rates hover around 10%.

Overall, though, there is a lot more, higher quality treatment than there was a decade ago.



There are a couple of more things I’d like to celebrate while I’m at it.

The first is the fabulous infographic above which summarises the drug treatment data and was developed by Ian Dutnall for the NTA.

The second is the increasingly useful Guardian’s DataBlog which publishes a whole host of public data online.

Everything from US jobless data by state through educational inequality in Scotland to the bodycount in every Bond film.

The data are typically beautifully represented visually to make them easy to interpret.

AND, you get to download the data yourself and analyse and investigate it to your heart’s content.

Here is their coverage of the Drug Treatment data.


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