Time To Get Serious About Treatment Of Drug DependenceMain Category: Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs
Also Included In: Psychology / Psychiatry
Article Date: 03 Mar 2013
Failure to treat drug dependence effectively is leading to unnecessary deaths and soaring social costs, according to drug rehabilitation specialists.
Effective treatment combines medication with psychosocial support, however around half of drug dependent patients in Europe are not offered any psychosocial intervention according to new data from the pan-EU EQUATOR survey (The European Quality Audit of Opioid Treatment).
Speaking at a London Summit on opioid dependence, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Farrukh Alam said that every £1 ($1.50) spent on treatment of drug dependence saves society £2.50 ($3.75) in reduced crime and lower health service expenditure.
Dr Alam, Clinical Director of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, England, said:
"Addiction is a chronic, complex and treatable disease... recovery can be optimised by combining psychosocial care with safe medications," said Dr Alam, Clinical Director of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.
Nicola Singleton, former Director of Policy & Research at the UK Drug Policy Commission said that the stigma associated with drug dependence remains a barrier to effective treatment. She called for the media to stop demonising people with drug dependence by using pejorative headline terms like 'junkie' and 'smackhead' to describe people with a recognised disease.
The economic burden of untreated dependence was underscored in data presented by Debbie Holt, a Consultant in Substance Misuse. "Any addicted person not in treatment commits crime costing on average £26,000 ($39,000) a year. The annual cost of drug-related crime is £13.9 billion ($20.85 billion) - the typical heroin user spends around £1,400 ($2,100) per month on drugs."
She added that effective treatment of dependence prevents an estimated 4.9 million crimes annually saving the public purse some £960 million ($1,440 million).
Elizabeth Burton-Phillips and Gail Pitts, both mothers who have lost sons due to drugs overdoses called for more education - not just of children, but of parents.
Elizabeth, the founder of the family support service DrugFam, lost her son Nicholas in 2004. "Drug education in schools is important but so is education of parents," she said. "Like most families we never thought it would happen to us. Parents need to discuss drugs with their children. They need to understand the power of addiction and what drugs can do."
DrugFam is currently helping 750 families who have lost a child to drug addiction.
Last year, the World Health Organisation published a report showing that the availability of drug dependence treatment lags well behind treatment and care offered for other diseases (Medical News Today 28 Jun 2012).
Written by Dr. Ian Mason
Copyright: MediLexicon International Ltd
Original article posted on Medical News Today.
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