Add to that the burden of drug use – more than 300,000 are struggling with crack cocaine and heroin addictions – and the cost of substance misuse is huge.Estimates suggest that the social and economic impact of alcohol-related harm amounts to £21.5 billion, while harm from illicit drug use costs £10.7 billion.
Many adult problem drug users have long histories of substance misuse which often starts before the age of 18. Research suggests that those most susceptible to developing problematic substance misuse problems are from ‘vulnerable groups’ such as children in care, persistent absentees or excludees from school, young offenders, the homeless and children affected by parental substance misuse. So providing well-funded, targeted and effective substance misuse services is vital.
It is the responsibility of local government to commission these and in the process, help prevent abuse in the first place and enable people to beat addiction and sustain their recovery.
But the causes of substance misuse and the solutions for tackling it are multi-factorial. It requires close working with partners, imagination and hard work. However, when we get it right it can have a tremendous impact.
As the case studies in this report show, lives are being turned around.