Ten per cent increase in people entering treatment for cocaine

The number of people starting treatment for powder cocaine issues increased by 10 per cent in 2022-23, from 21,298 to 23,529, according to the latest treatment statistics from OHID. The previous peak number was 21,396 in 2019-20.

The headline figure is for powder cocaine use, but there are also increases in treatment for crack cocaine and ketamine.

There has also been rise in the number of people entering treatment for crack – both those using crack with opiates (from 18,832 to 20,158) and without opiates (4,711 to 5,444). The increase comes after two years of declining figures.

Overall there were 290,635 adults in contact with drug and alcohol treatment services in 2022-23, slightly up from the previous year’s figure of 289,215. However the number of people entering treatment was higher than for the last two years, at 137,749 compared to 130,490 and 133,704. As in previous years, almost half of people in treatment were there for problems with opiates, with those in treatment for alcohol alone making up the next largest group, at 30 per cent.

The number of people entering treatment for problems with benzodiazepines dropped by 6 per cent to 3,620, after increasing every year since 2018-19. The number entering treatment for cannabis was up by 2 per cent, however, to 28,845, and more than 2,000 entered treatment for problems with ketamine – five times the total from less than a decade ago.

Just over 127,000 people exited the treatment system in 2022-23, with almost half having successfully completed their treatment. However, the number of people who died while in contact with treatment services was 4,166, up more than 10 per cent on the previous year.

Just under 68 per cent of people in treatment overall were male and just over 32 per cent female. Sixty per cent were over 40, an almost 10 per cent increase since 2016-17, with the number of under-30-year-olds in treatment for opiates standing at just 5 per cent.

Homelessness looms large, especially for the opiate treatment group.

More than two thirds of people in treatment reported having a mental health treatment need, which is broadly similar to last year but a substantial increase from 2018-19 when the figure was just over half. A fifth of people starting treatment said they had no home of their own – with the highest proportion among the opiate treatment group, at 37 per cent –while just under ten per cent said they were at risk of homelessness in the next eight weeks.

More than 40,000 people said they’d smoked tobacco in the month before starting treatment – 49 per cent, compared to smoking rates in the general population of 14 per cent for men and ten per cent for women. However less than 5 per cent said they’d been offered a referral for smoking cessation.

Very few treatment clients are being offered smoking cessation, despite the high number of smokers.

The latest drug misuse statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales have also been published, showing that around 9.5 per cent of 16 to 59-year-olds used an illicit drug in 2022-23. While there was no statistically significant change compared to the figures for the year ending March 2020, levels of use were up by 8 per cent on a decade ago, including more than 6 per cent for cannabis and 2.5 per cent for class A drugs.

Around 770,000 people said they’d taken drugs more than once a month during the last year. The number of 16 to 24-year-olds who reported any drug use was down by more than 20 per cent on the year ending March 2020, however – largely the result of falls in cannabis use – although this age group still had the highest prevalence of drug use overall.

Adult substance misuse treatment statistics 2022 to 2023: report here

Drug misuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2023 here


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