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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 October 27; 335(7625): 849.
PMCID: PMC2043462

Use of drug treatment services in England is rising

Almost 200 000 people were in contact with specialist drug treatment services in England in 2006-7. This was a rise of 10% on the previous year and was 130% higher than the figure eight years ago, figures from the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse show.

The data show that a total of 195 464 people used the services in 2006/7 and 177 055 the previous year.

“More people are receiving the treatment they need, and three out of four are also staying three months or longer, which means their treatment is likely to be more effective in the long term,” says the agency's chief executive, Paul Hayes.

He said, “Drug treatment has developed considerably since 2001, and we are now meeting the challenge to make treatment more effective for the most chaotic and vulnerable individuals, as well as the communities in which they live, in England. Effective drug treatment delivers benefits to individuals, reduces the spread of bloodborne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis within the population at large, and improves the safety of communities by reducing drug related crime.”

The results, collated from the national drug treatment monitoring system by Manchester University, show that more than 60 000 (75%) new clients remained in structured treatment for 12 weeks or more.

They also show that 156 854 people (80%) of those in treatment in the year had either successfully completed treatment or were still being treated at the end of March 2007—21 764 more than in the previous year.

Some 27 500 (42%) of those discharged had completed treatment successfully, around 6000 more than in the previous year.

Heroin was the most frequently reported main drug of misuse by adults (by 117 305 or 66%), then methadone or other opiates (16 250 (9%)), cannabis (13 087 (7%)), crack cocaine (10 664 (6%)), and cocaine (10 078 (6%)).

The drug most misused by those aged under 18 was cannabis (11 582 (75%)), then heroin or other opiates (1036 (7%)), cocaine (716 (5%)), and crack cocaine (181 (1%)).

Regional figures for the 149 local drug action teams, which are responsible for identifying local needs and commissioning treatment to meet those needs, show that the North West had the largest number of people reported as contacting services, with a total of 37 636, slightly ahead of London at 36 292. The third highest region was Yorkshire and Humber, with 26 959. The region with the lowest number was the North East (11 689).

Further reading

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse data are available at

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