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One in 50 admits to being addicted to illegal drugs

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 One in 50 admits to being addicted to illegal drugs

More than 1.2 million people have been addicted to illegal drugs at some point in their life, according to Drugscope.

The report comes after official statistics have revealed an increase in the number of deaths as a result of illegal drugs have hit an eight-year high in England and Wales, with 738 deaths linked to all illegal drugs in 2008, up 8 per cent on the previous year.

According to Drugscope, the number of people addicted to drugs is not increasing however there is a rise in the number of people whose lives are affected by drugs.

A poll of over 1,000 adults, carried out by research company ICM, revealed that 19 per cent of people have had a ‘personal experience of drug addiction’, either directly or among friends and family. Furthermore, 11 per cent knew a friend who was drug dependant and 6 per cent had a family member who had experience of drug addiction.

Two per cent of people had themselves experienced drug dependency, which equates to 1.2 million adults on a national scale.

Martin Baines, Chief Executive of Drugscope, believes that these figures indicated that drugs are now prevalent throughout society.

He said: “Our research shows that drug dependency is something that’s close to home for many people. Every drug user is someone’s daughter or somebody’s son,”

“It may be hard for a lot of people to reconcile the ‘junkies’ of many a headline with the person they know and love who has struggled with drug dependency.”

DrugScope commissioned the poll to investigate whether drug addiction was largely due to environmental factors and question the assumption that addiction is solely the result of an individual’s behaviour.

Four fifths of those questioned agreed that “people can become addicted to drugs because of other problems in their lives”, whereas only 35% agreed that “there is no excuse for drug addiction - it is always the individual’s fault”.

DrugScope also found overwhelming support for drug treatment: 88% of respondents agreed that “people who have become addicted to drugs need help and support to get their lives back on track”, while 77% agreed that investment in drug treatment is “a sensible use of government money”.
“It’s encouraging that the majority of respondents understood that someone’s drug dependence will often stem from other problems in their life and agreed that drug treatment should be available to all those who need it,” Barnes said.

Barnes believes that people would have a much better chance of rehabilitation if there was a shift in society’s attitudes towards drug users.

He said “For many people trying to break free of addiction, stigma and discrimination remain a major barrier to recovery and may impact on their chances of getting into work, being housed or accessing proper health care. The government’s commitment to supporting problem drug users requires action to tackle stigmatising and discriminatory attitudes.”

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