UK Is Europe’s Drink And Drug Shame Capital
BRITAIN is the “addiction capital of Europe” with some of the highest rates of heroin addiction and alcohol dependence, a major report has warned.
Alcohol abuse costs the country £21billion a year while drug dependency is not far behind at £15billion.
This crisis of addiction also fuels family breakdown and child neglect, the Centre for Social Justice said.
The CSJ found alcohol dependence among British men is the second highest in western Europe, while among women it is higher than anywhere else in Europe. A quarter of adults in England drink to harmful levels, it said.
Alcohol-related deaths have doubled since 1991 and liver disease is now one of the “big five” killers, alongside heart and lung disease, cancer and stroke.
The report, No Quick Fix, found that the UK has Europe’s highest rate of addiction to opiates, such as heroin, and the highest lifetime-use of amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy.
More young people have used “legal highs”, or new psychoactive substances, than anywhere else in Europe, with one in 12 of those aged 15 to 24 saying he or she had taken such drugs.
Britain has also become a hub for websites peddling such “club drugs”, which are ordered online and distributed by postmen who unwittingly become drugs mules. People can even buy heroin and crack cocaine from mail order websites.
The think-tank criticised the Government’s response as “bureaucratic and inadequate”, saying that while it had used temporary banning orders three times to control approximately 15 substances since 2010, during this time more than 150 new products were being sold in shops and online.
The Government also has an “inadequate response to heroin addiction”, the CSJ said. Almost a third of people with prescriptions for the substitute methadone have been “stranded” on it for four or more years.
Most councils in England have also had funding for the residential treatment of heroin addicts cut since the Coalition came to power, the CSJ said.
Noreen Oliver, chairwoman of the review, said: “This report lays bare the stark reality of drug and alcohol addiction, and abuse, in the UK today.”
Christian Guy, director of the CSJ, said: “While our addiction problem damages the economy, it is the human consequences that present the real tragedy.
“Drug and alcohol abuse fuels poverty and deprivation, leading to family breakdown and child neglect, homelessness, crime, debt and long-term worklessness.”