Britain is the substance abuse capital of Europe, figures show
Britain’s drugs disgrace: One out of every three overdose deaths in the EU now happens in the UK, making it the substance abuse capital of Europe
- EXCLUSIVE: Cocaine-related fatalities have doubled in the past three years
- Drug abuse kills more people each year than knife crime and road accidents combined
- 34 per cent of the 8,238 drug overdose deaths in the EU in 2017 happened in the UK
Britain was last night branded the ‘drug capital of Europe’, with one in three of the continent’s overdose deaths happening here.
Experts warn the country is in the midst of an addiction crisis as figures show drug abuse kills more people in the UK each year than knife crime and road accidents combined.
Drug deaths are at their highest level since records began, with cocaine-related fatalities doubling in the past three years.
Experts warn the country is in the midst of an addiction crisis as figures show drug deaths are at their highest level since records began (stock image)
And official figures show that 34 per cent of the 8,238 drug overdose deaths in the EU in 2017 took place in the UK. Germany, which was second, accounted for 13 per cent – less than half the UK’s share.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith demands that the Government take urgent action to prevent the crisis from spiralling.
A report backed by the Conservative MP calls for investment in residential rehabilitation centres – funded in part by new taxes on alcohol and gambling – and says the UK ‘must conquer addiction to end its reign as the drug capital of Europe’.
The Centre for Social Justice, which produced the report, said it should be easier for those struggling with addiction to seek help from their employer without fear of losing their job.
Official figures show that 34 per cent of the 8,238 drug overdose deaths in the EU in 2017 happened in the UK (stock image)
Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Duncan Smith calls on ministers to make tackling drug addiction a priority. He says tackling addiction would also ‘deal with the root cause’ of gang violence and knife crime.
The CSJ report accuses ministers of failing to fulfil a pledge made two years ago that they would ensure addiction services are ‘effectively funded’ so that ‘no one should be left behind’.
Freedom of information requests by the think-tank, set up by Mr Duncan Smith, found that nearly one in five local authorities have cut addiction treatment budgets by over a third, and that some have slashed their budget by more than half.
Around 30 residential rehabilitation centres have closed their doors since 2014.
The cost of drug and alcohol addiction is estimated to be £38billion – roughly 2 per cent of GDP, the same as our defence budget.
The report argues that ‘neglect’ of addiction services has led to harm that will last for more than a generation.
It calls for a new tax on alcohol, the introduction of a levy on gambling firms, and an overhaul of ‘proceeds of crime’ rules to pay for improved addiction services, including the re-opening of residential rehabilitation facilities. It also calls for a new body, the Prevention and Recovery Agency, to bring together Whitehall departments to address the problems of alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has demanded that the Government take urgent action to prevent the crisis from spiralling
The agency would be responsible for funding decisions and ensure essential services are being provided across the country.
Andy Cook, chief executive of the CSJ, said: ‘There has been a clear and worrying correlation between the recent reductions in addiction funding and the increase in drug-related deaths. Recovery is earned through an enormous test of character and emotional determination. We should be doing all we can to support those going through this process.
‘It is a dereliction of duty that rehabilitation centres are turning away those in need due to a lack of funding.’
A Government spokesman said local authorities had been awarded £3billion to spend on public health services, and added: ‘Every drug-related death is a tragedy.
‘We have commissioned a major independent review of drugs, which will look at a wide range of issues, including the system of support and enforcement around drug misuse, in order to inform our thinking about what more can be done to tackle harm from drugs.’
Teen’s nightclub tragedy
Courtney Chamberlin, pictured, died of a suspected overdose after collapsing at a nightclub in Leeds city centre
A teenage girl died in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday after a suspected drug overdose in a nightclub.
The 18-year-old, named locally as Courtney Chamberlin, left, was pronounced dead in hospital.
She had been found ‘distressed’ in the bathroom of The Warehouse in Leeds at 3am.
Yesterday one tribute left under a bunch of flowers outside the nightclub read: ‘You were such a sweet, caring young lady… it was a pleasure to have met you and dance away the night with you.’
A 19-year-old man was last night arrested on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs.
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