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The latest research, policy, practice and opinion on our criminal justice and drug & alcohol treatment systems

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Alcohol & Drugs

The European Drug Report 2015

Earlier this month the EMCDDA published its annual European Drugs Report. My experience is that these reports get more useful every year. In addition to the opportunity to see how UK drug use both resembles and differs from patterns of use in different parts of the continent, the report also gives a very useful heads-up on trends in how countries respond to the issue of drugs. This year’s report focuses in particular on: Drug market dynamics – global influences and local differences; Trends in drug use and Developments in health and social responses

Alcohol & Drugs

10 things I learnt from the 2015 Global Drug Survey

The Global Drug Survey becomes more valuable every year; this year over 100,000 people completed the survey. The survey is very different from research such as the Crime Survey for England and Wales because it is typically completed by regular, mainly recreational, drug users. The findings make fascinating reading and I recommend that you find time for a browse.

Alcohol & Drugs

Drugs in Prison

Although it is obvious that the main reason that such large quantities of drugs get into prison is to feed the demand of the many dependent drug users inside, it has long been a significant concern that as many as one in five heroin users took the drug for the first time in custody.

Alcohol & Drugs

Is the drug strategy working?

Drugs remains such a politically sensitive issue that an honest review which highlights successes and failures with the same prominence seems very unlikely, irrespective of which political parties are in power. Until we can have an open and honest debate about drugs in this country, it will be difficult for us to have a truly effective drug strategy.

Alcohol & Drugs

The UK drug scene is changing fast

Almost every area reported a continued rise in the use of new psychoactive substances. The rapid rise in the use of synthetic cannabinoids such as Black Mamba and Exodus Damnation was of particular concern, particularly amongst vulnerable groups such as opiate users, street homeless, prisoners and socially excluded young people. The problematic use of these drugs has featured regularly in prison inspectorate reports over the last year.

Alcohol & Drugs

One new Legal High a week

Many of this group of users of these new drugs are reported to be very reluctant to seek help from traditional treatment services, seeing them as being for “problem” heroin, crack and alcohol users. The report also argues that, with the exception of a few new emerging services (such as the Club Drug Clinic), existing services are not equipped to meet the needs of NPS users, even when they do seek help.

Alcohol & Drugs

Are drugs getting more popular (again)?

This year’s (British) Crime Survey found an increase in the proportion of people using illegal drugs is rising again. This finding is in the context of a steady drop in levels of drug use over the last 15 years and it’s not clear whether the rise is merely a blip or the start of a new upwards trend.

Alcohol & Drugs

Ambitious for recovery?

The report is engagingly direct in its criticisms of our drug treatment centre, saying that is still too focused on maintaining dependent users on methadone and other substitute drugs and failing to help them sustain recovery and life productive lives. It claims: “For years full recovery has been the preserve of the wealthy – closed off to the poorest people and to those with problems who need to rely on a public system.”


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