Drink and Drugs News DDN Dec 2017 | Page 5

Read the full stories, and more, online www.drinkanddrugsnews.com BIG RISE IN NUMBERS SEEKING TREATMENT FOR CRACK alcohol-specific deaths is therefore ‘a more conservative estimate on the harms related to alcohol misuse’, the ONS states. Alcohol- specific deaths in the UK: registered in 2016 at www.ons.gov.uk THERE HAS BEEN A 23 PER CENT INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE SEEKING TREATMENT FOR CRACK COCAINE , from 2,980 to 3,657, according to the latest figures from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS). The number presenting with combined crack and opiate problems was also up by 12 per cent, to 21,854. People presenting with a dependency on opiates made up the largest proportion of the 279,793 people in contact with drug or alcohol services in 2016-17, at 52 per cent. However this overall total marks a 3 per cent reduction from the previous year’s figure, with the number seeking treatment for opiates down by 2 per cent and the number receiving treatment for alcohol alone down by 5 per cent, to 80,454. The number of alcohol-only clients in contact with services is now 12 per cent below its 2013-14 peak. The median age of people with alcohol-only problems was 46, while opiate clients had a median age of 39. The number of under-25s commencing treatment is now 45 per cent below the level of a decade ago, with just over 11,600 18-24 year olds presenting – mainly for cannabis, alcohol or cocaine. The number of people presenting with NPS problems was 29 per cent down on the previous year, to 1,450, largely driven by an almost 50 per cent drop in presentations among the under-25s. Individuals who present to treatment using NPS are also ‘more likely to be homeless’, the report states. The exact reason for the increased prevalence of crack use was not clear but ‘likely to be driven in part by the affordability and purity of crack and cocaine’, said PHE’s director of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, Rosanna O’Connor. Changes in ‘dealing patterns and drug supply networks, such as the “county lines” phenomenon’, are also likely to be playing a role, she added. Meanwhile, figures from the Home Office show that CONTROLLING CONSULTATION drug seizures in England and Wales are down by 6 per cent to their lowest level since 2004. While seizures of class B drugs fell by 9 per cent, there were almost 15,000 seizures of cocaine, amounting to more than 5,500 kilograms – the largest quantity since 2003. However, ‘what are portrayed as massive seizures are a minor cost of business for organised crime,’ said Transform’s head of campaigns Martin Powell, and ‘less significant than the 2 per cent food wastage supermarkets like Morrisons factor into their supply chains’. mARtIn PoWell Adult substance misuse statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, and Seizures of drugs in England and Wales, financial year ending 2017, at www.gov.uk OLDER ISSUES BREAKING BARRIERS LEGAL BARRIERS to the establishment of consumption rooms could be overcome if a pilot was allowed to operate under police supervision, says Volte Face, with the UN advising that the facilities are consistent with its conventions as long as they reduce harm and lead to treatment and rehabilitation. ‘The fact that drug- related deaths are now at record levels is the clearest possible indicator that existing policies are inadequate and that new approaches and interventions are required,’ said chair of the Drug, Alcohol and Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group, Lord Ramsbotham. Back yard at volteface.me www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘What are portrayed as massive seizures are a minor cost of business for organised crime.’ ‘new approa - ches and interventions are required.’ loRd RAmsbothAm LAST YEAR SAW 7,327 ‘ALCOHOL-SPECIFIC’ DEATHS IN THE UK , according to ONS figures, with the highest death rate in the 55-64 age group and fatalities among men aged 70-74 increasing by around 50 per cent since 2001. The death rate remains around 55 per cent higher among men than women, and although Scotland is still the UK country with the highest rate it has also seen the largest fall since the early 2000s. Since its last statistical release ONS has revised its definition of alcohol-specific deaths to include conditions where death is a ‘direct consequence’ of alcohol use – such as alcoholic liver disease or alcohol-induced pancreatitis – but not those where ‘only a proportion’ of deaths are caused by alcohol, such as liver cancer. The definition of THE GOVERNMENT IS CONSULTING on whether – and how – to schedule pregabalin and gabapentin under the Misuse of Drugs Act, following a recommendation by ACMD that they become class C substances. Consultation at http://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.g ov.uk/s/4WE QO/ until 22 January 2018. ARBITRARY AGES THREE QUARTERS OF RESIDENTIAL ALCOHOL TREATMENT FACILITIES are failing older adults because of ‘arbitrary age limits’, according to Alcohol Research UK. More than half exclude people at 66, while 75 per cent impose arbitrary limits of between 50 and 90, says Accessibility and suitability of residential alcohol treatment for older adults. Older people who do access rehab may also drop out because they find the environment ‘unwelcoming or intimidating’, the report adds. Rehab centres are ‘unfairly, and perhaps illegally, excluding older people, who would otherwise benefit from residential treatment,’ said CEO Dr Richard Piper. Meanwhile, a separate Drink Wise, Age Well report found that practitioners are prioritising younger people for referrals, with reasons including perceptions that older drinkers are ‘too old to change’, that their care needs are too complex or that their age and life expectancy mean ‘it’s not worth intervening’. Reports at alcoholresearchuk.org and www.drinkwiseagewell.org.uk GOING COUNTRY ‘COUNTY LINES’ ACTIVITY – where urban drug dealing networks expand into rural areas – has now been reported by almost 90 per cent of police forces in England and Wales, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA). Almost three quarters of forces also reported associated exploitation of vulnerable people. ‘The data tells us that county lines groups continue to exploit the vulnerable, including children and those with mental health or addiction problems, at all points of their drug supply routes,’ said the NCA’s head of drugs threat and intelligence, Lawrence Gibbons. County lines violence, exploitation & drug supply 2017 at www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk December/January 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 5