UK worst in EU for drink and drug addictions: Report finds alcohol and substances cost nation £36bn a year (En)
- Centre for Scoial Justice said the addictions are causing family breakdown, crime and debt
- Men’s dependance on alcohol in Britain is second in western Europe
- One in four adults in England drink to harmful levels and one in 20 are ‘dependent drinkers’
Rampant drink and drug abuse makes Britain the ‘addiction capital of Europe’, a think-tank warned last night.
The Centre for Social Justice said alcohol and drugs are now costing the nation a staggering £36billion a year, causing ‘family breakdown, crime, debt
|‘Epidemic’: Chairman |
of the Home Affairs
Keith Vaz said the
think tank’s results
The report, No Quick Fix, found the UK has Europe’s highest rate of addiction to hard drugs such as heroin – and a greater percentage of people who will try amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy at some point in their lives.
Its authors criticised David Cameron for promising to spend more on residential drug programmes, but actually funding up to ten years of methadone for tens of thousands of heroin addicts instead.
The think-tank also warned that men’s dependence on booze in Britain is second in western Europe, and women’s is higher than anywhere else on the continent. One in four adults in England drink to harmful levels, and one in 20 are ‘dependent drinkers’, it says.
The report condemns the Government’s failure to tackle cheap alcohol by abandoning its plan for minimum unit pricing – calling for a ‘treatment tax’ on alcohol that could fund rehabilitation centres for addicts.
Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice, said: ‘While our addiction problem damages the economy, it is the human consequences that present the real tragedy.
‘Drug and alcohol abuse fuels poverty and deprivation, leading to family breakdown and child neglect, homelessness, crime and debt as well as long-term worklessness.’
He added: ‘From its impact on children to its consequences for pensioners, dependency destroys lives, wrecks families and blights communities.’
The study also raises serious concerns about the explosion in legal high abuse. It points out that 150 legal highs have emerged in the past three years, but struggling authorities have managed to ban just one in ten.
It claims more young people have used legal highs in the UK than anywhere else in Europe – and says that a quarter of the continent’s legal high users are found in the UK.
|No quick fix: The report |
Government’s failure to
tackle cheap alcohol
by abandoning its plan
for minimum unit pricing
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, spoke of his concern about a potential ‘epidemic’ in legal high abuse.
He said: ‘Today’s report by the Centre for Social Justice on legal highs is truly shocking.
‘The current system of temporary banning orders simply cannot keep up with the market in new psychoactive substances.
‘We must take action now if we are to tackle what is fast on the way to becoming an epidemic.’