UK drug deaths can be reduced by funding treatment services

The Guardian reports that experts have urged the government to invest in treatment services to bring down the number of deaths from their current record levels.

The most recent official figures show that 4,359 deaths from drug poisoning were recorded in England and Wales in 2018, the highest number since records began in 1993, with around two-thirds attributed to drug misuse.

A pilot scheme in the north east of England, backed by Addaction, one of the UK’s biggest drug and alcohol charities, aims to bring to the streets a life-saving medication that reverses the effects of an overdose. But Gary Besterfield, the service manager of Addaction Redcar and Cleveland, issued a stark warning to the government about the desperate state of funding for drug treatment.

“I would absolutely say one of the contributing factors [to the rise in deaths] is the drop in funding. The current political climate is not supportive of the work we do,” Besterfied said. “With Brexit issues and everything that’s gone on, we’re just in the back seat. If I’m brutally honest, drug-related deaths to the government at the minute, I don’t think it’s a priority.”

Studies have shown that councils have responded to central government cuts by cutting spending on drug treatment services by about 27% on average since 2015–16, and in some areas by more than 50%.

Full story in The Guardian, 5 February 2020