Being ranked at the top is usually a good thing but for the UK being top of the pile isn’t so great. This week the UK was warned that it is the addiction capital of Europe, a undesirable title that politicians at Whitehall are looking to quickly eradicate.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), set up by Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith, stated that drink and drug abuse in the country costs the government around £36bn a year with some of the highest rates of opiate and alcohol dependency as well as the significant rise of the purchase of ‘Legal-Highs’.
Rise of Alcohol Abuse in the UK.
The report states that the number of admissions to hospital over alcohol-related incidents have doubled in the last ten years, branding the increase as an “epidemic of drink-related conditions”. A quarter of adults in the UK are drinking to dangerous levels, with a further one in twenty found to be ‘dependant drinkers’. Liver disease, often linked to alcohol abuse, is one of the highest killers in the country alongside heart disease and cancer.
Alcoholism among men in the UK is at the second highest level in Europe whereas there are more female alcoholics in the UK than anywhere else in the continent. These high levels are shocking and concerning when considering the size of the UK, a relatively small nation, compared to its European counterparts.
The report, which is called No Quick Fix, also criticized the government for its “inadequate response to heroin addiction”. More than 40,000 heroin addicts in England have been stuck on methadone, which is used but is rarely effective, to try and wean them off heroin.
More than a third of people prescribed methadone in Britain have been on it for more than four years, with one in 25 for more than a decade; this is a rise of 40 per cent since the coalition took office in 2010.
One in five 15-24 year-olds in the UK tried legal-highs, an increase of 39% since 2006, with 52 deaths in the UK last year being linked to the substances or their equivalent. The report attacked the governments sluggish response to the problem as ‘bureaucratic and inadequate’ as 150 new drugs have gone on sale legally in the UK in the last three years as the government have moved to ban just 15 substances in the same time.
The drugs are readily available in shops and through mail ordering available on the Internet, which sees thousands of pounds of legal-highs delivered to the doors of users across the country.
What is clear is that progress must be made in the UK to meet to better the health of the nation and reduce the shocking figures down to a move average level for a small country. Governmental measure must target abuse and examine ways to best treat addiction and tackle the growing drug and drink problems.
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