16th July 2021

The second part of Dame Carol Black’s review on drugs in the UK has been released and we wholeheartedly support the recommendations she has set out for the drug treatment and recovery system.

Dame Black has called for the government to invest £552 million in recovery and treatment services like ours and urged them to work together to improve all areas of support for people with addictions including employment, housing support and the criminal justice system.

The government has responded to her calls for a whole-system approach to tackling drug addiction problems by setting up a Joint Combating Drugs Unit to bring different government departments together to help end drug-related illness and death.

"The government faces an unavoidable choice: invest in tackling the problem or keep paying for the consequences.”

We are pleased to hear that the review calls for “significant investment” in the drug treatment and recovery system and we are also optimistic about the government’s response to the review.

However, we would like to emphasise that any decisions made by a central government unit should be informed by the people who know the reality of addiction and recovery; the people who are suffering from addiction and the workers who help them. Everywhere is different, people are individuals and local knowledge is needed to ensure this is a success.

We are also delighted that the report recommends addiction be recognised as a chronic health condition that requires long-term support. As a recovery charity, we think it’s taken too long for people with addictions to be treated as people with a health problem instead of people who have “failed” in society.  

On top of this, we are glad that the review recognises that the staff who work in addiction services have been left demoralised by successive funding cuts and an increase in people needing support. This validates the feelings of many people who have been working in this field for a long time and we welcome any investment that brings in new people and helps our current staff to do what they were born to: save people’s lives and break the cycle of addiction.

Drug treatment has a positive ripple effect across the whole of society. It gives individuals the chance to get their lives back, gives families the chance to get their loved ones back, saves money for the taxpayer, reduces crime, and helps future generations to stay happy, healthy, and stable.

The review rightly states that every £1 spent on treatment saves £4 elsewhere and we hope this is factored into the level of investment the government decides to put into our sector. We know what to do to break the cycle of addiction, but we need the support to do it.

 

On 8th July, part two of Dame Carol Black’s review was published – in it she sets out over 30 recommendations around drug treatment that you can read about here. Part one was released in February 2020 and described how drug-related deaths are at an all-time high and the drugs trade costs society around £19 billion every year.