Addiction remains a tragic feature of many people’s lives and it is particularly difficult to escape for those also suffering socio-economic disadvantage. It strains the fabric of our society, and it can divide families, ruin childhoods, affect mental health, and even fuel crime.
Our report, ‘Road to Recovery: A Case for Reform’, exposed the shocking reality of a dynamic, adaptable and increasingly dangerous drugs market which poses an increasing threat to our communities. All this at a time when the treatment sector has been severely damaged by years of neglect. Our report encouraged recognition that a common strategy is required to tackle addiction, in all its forms, be it the nearly 600,000 dependent drinkers, the 430,000 problem gamblers, many of them children, or the ever-increasing number of people that die from drug abuse every year.
Arguably, today more of us are vulnerable to addiction than ever before, with overprescription practices, drugs culture infiltrating social media, the growth of the dark web, aggressive gambling marketing and conditions like anxiety being exploited by dealers in illicit medication. These emerging trends have seen benzodiazepine use spiralling, a huge increase in steroid abuse, a resurgence in club drugs, a spike in cocaine and even crack use and increasingly potent and lethal opiates invading the market.
Our report recognised the need for reform of a broken treatment sector. It advocated a whole-person approach to help people into recovery. This must be matched by a cross-departmental effort to provide wrap-around services and meaningful, lasting support.
The Government has now made a commitment to tackle addiction from prevention to treatment and beyond with a new approach.
We believe recovery starts with the individual, but it takes a compassionate and determined community to help to make that a reality. We will continue both to encourage the Government in its new approach and to press for the further changes needed to help our nation’s most vulnerable.