Drug addiction is one of the leading causes of death around the globe. It also has a huge impact on both individuals and communities, with addicts having a limited ability to integrate themselves within society, conduct day-to-day tasks, and manage their financial responsibilities.

In the UK, thousands of people are living with some form of substance dependency and the country has one of the highest rates of drug-induced deaths in Europe. Almost 3000 people died in the UK in 2020 as a direct result of drug misuse, and a further 4,500 died due to drug poisoning.

Within this article, we explore the impact drug addiction is having in the UK.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic disorder that results in someone compulsively seeking and using drugs, despite the negative impact they can have on their health, well-being and life as a whole.

Some people can take drugs without becoming addicted, but for others, casual use can quickly spiral out of control, leading to a severe, life-threatening addiction.

How widely spread is drug addiction in the UK?

It’s hard to get an accurate picture of the true scale of drug addiction in the UK because many of those dealing with addiction are reluctant to seek help.

However, between 2019 and 2020, 270,000 people were in contact with drug treatment services in the UK, so it’s likely that the real drug addiction figures are much higher.

What are the main drugs used in the UK?

The main drugs used in the UK are:

  • Opioids – The UK has the largest reported opioid-using population in Europe. In 2017, approximately 57,000 people started treatment for primary opioid use in the UK, representing 35% of those starting treatment throughout the EU.
  • Cocaine –  The UK has the highest levels of crack cocaine problems in Europe and, of the 11,000 people recorded as starting treatment for primary use in Europe in 2017, 65% of these were in the UK.
  • Benzodiazepine.
  • MDMA and ecstasy.
  • Ketamine.

How much does drug addiction cost society UK?

Drug addiction has a huge cost on UK society, in a variety of different ways.

Financially, drug addiction costs the UK billions each year. UK Parliament reported in August 2023 that the total cost of drugs to society is estimated to be £19 billion, more than twice the value of the illicit drug trade.

£1.4 billion is spent on drug-related police enforcement and criminal justice system costs each year in England alone, while a further £5.5 billion is spent on drug-related crime.

How does the NHS deal with addiction?

Although it’s not an easy road to recovery, addiction is treatable, and it is possible to live a life of sobriety and achieve your goals again.

There are various ways to seek help for addiction and countless support mechanisms offering the support addicts need. However, although outpatient addiction treatment is available for free through the NHS, inpatient treatment for services like medical detox, and residential rehabilitation is only available through referral to other private addiction centres.

Why choose ANA Treatments?

At ANA, we work closely with our clients to help rebuild their lives, gain confidence and self-worth and believe that they can live a healthy, responsible and productive life, free of addictive substances.

Contact ANA today, our friendly team is on hand and ready to help.