Latest adult substance treatment statistics highlight persisting misuse problems in the UK
The UK Office for Health Improvement and Disparities released the adult substance misuse treatment statistics for 2022/2023 on 14th December 2023. These numbers reflect the people in drug and alcohol treatment services between April 2022 and March 2023.
Records show that 290,635 adults were in contact with drug and alcohol services over the mentioned period. Compared to the previous year, this number increased by only 1,420 people.
The number of people who entered treatment totalled 137,749. This is more than the previous two years, which came in at 130,490 and 133,704 respectively.
These statistics reflect that drug and alcohol treatment outreach initiatives are reaching more people, which is a step in the right direction and part of the aims of the UK government’s 10-year drug strategy, From Harm to Hope. One can, however, argue that these records also indicate a rise in drug and alcohol misuse.
Substance misuse trends
Almost half of the people (48%) who sought help with a substance misuse issue suffered from opiate addictions. Despite a slight year-on-year decrease from 140,558 to 138,604, this is still the largest group of misusers.
Opiates include an array of substances such as heroin, morphine and codeine. Some are narcotics, while others are taken and gradually misused as over-the-counter or prescription medicines.
The second-largest group – a 30% margin – constituted alcohol misuse. Compared to the previous year’s numbers, these cases increased by 2% to 86,257 but remain lower than the 2013 to 2014 spike of 91,651.
Another group of concern are those using crack cocaine with or without opiates. The number of people combining use of the substance with opiates climbed from 18,832 to 20,158, and those using the drug on its own rose from 4,711 to 5,444.
The number of powder cocaine users starting treatment increased by 10% to 23,529. This tops the previous peak of 21,396 in 2019/2020. Cannabis saw a 2% rise to 28,845, but benzodiazepine problems decreased by 6% after year-on-year increases between 2018 and 2022.
Strategic drug and alcohol testing
People usually seek help for their addiction problems after these negatively affect their social and economic wellbeing. Ideally, authorities – which include the whole spectrum from prison services and workplaces to social outreach and housing treatment programmes – should identify the misuse problems before they escalate.
This means that drug and alcohol testing is crucial in places where early detection is possible. Workplace testing programmes, for example, can identify single and repeat misuse trends very quickly. By establishing contact and help before people lose their jobs and income, it is possible to prevent the ripple effects such as domestic abuse and theft to sustain addictive habits.
Contact Matrix Diagnostics, the foremost drug and alcohol testing specialist, about our workplace drug and alcohol testing programmes. We have the know-how on everything from policy development and legal requirements to training and practical implementation strategies.