Earlier of March, The Guardian reported a drop in the number of users of heroin and crack throughout the U.K.
The research, conducted independently by the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow, includes data from the year between 2010-2011 and found that for the first time since analyzing data collected from 2005-2006 the number of people abusing opiates and crack decreased to fewer than 300,000. Over the same period the number of drug users injecting substances declined from 129,977 to 93,401.
The report also estimates that the drop in substance abuse has prevented crimes that would have been fuelled by drug use – a calculated 4.9 million crimes, including shoplifting and burglary.
A report published by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA), and which summarizes the researchers’ findings, credited the U.K.’s extensive drug rehab programme system with the ‘win’ for recovery advocates and social policymakers.
Substance abuse rehabs are not barren halls though; they are working to service aging users in recovery, those who most likely began abusing substances at a young age and who have lived through multiple relapses. Though the U.K. drug rehab programme system stepped in when the current and younger generation of drug abusers first began to struggle with addiction, it seems that the system is at a loss to provide an answer for these older addicts.
“The drug population is aging,” NTA Chief Executive Paul Hayes told The Fix. “We have very few people in their teens and twenties using heroin and crack, and more in treatment in their 40s and 50s who are frailer, more ill, and more difficult to turn around in the system.”
Clearly, substance abuse rehab in the U.K. is working; though seemingly better for the younger generations than the older generations. Next month, the NTA will merge with Public Health England, and place the control of substance abuse rehab services in the hands of local authorities. How this will affect current drug rehab programmes is still unclear, but the current services have paved a way for increased effectiveness and nationwide sobriety and wellness.