Fewer heroin and crack users, says NTA

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The number of heroin and crack cocaine users in England has fallen below 300,000 for the first time, according to figures issued by the NTA. 

The figure stood at 298,752 in 2010-11, according to Esti­mates of the prevalence of opiate use and/or crack cocaine use, down from a peak of more than 332,000 in 2005-06. The number of people injecting has also fallen to just over 93,400 from nearly 130,000 over the same period, it says. 

The estimates ‘support the continuing shift away from the most harmful drugs, particularly among younger people,’ the agency states. However, while the number of under-35s using heroin and crack is falling, the number of ‘entrenched users’ aged over 35 continues to increase. 

The number of people starting a new treatment programme for addiction to heroin and/or crack has fallen to 47,210 in 2011-12 from 64,288 in 2005-6, as local authorities take over lead responsibility for commissioning substance misuse services from next month. 

 ‘The NTA is handing over to Public Health England and local authorities a world class drug treatment system, with rapid access to evidence-based interventions and increasing rates of recovery,’ said chief executive Paul Hayes. ‘The new public health landscape presents both opportunities and challenges. Local authorities are well placed to bring together all the support people need to help them recover from addiction, including access to housing, employment and social networks. However the strong recovery ambition called for in the government’s 2010 drug strategy, and the investment in treatment, must be maintained if we are to consolidate and build on the gains we have made.’

Estimates of the prevalence of opiate use and/or crack cocaine use, 2010/11 at www.nta.nhs.uk