Jsna Banner

Drugs and Other Substances   Download this section

Drug use and dependency causes a range of harms to society which includes:

Drugs Misuse harms families and communities

(Serious case reviews refers to cases where child protection issues have been identified.)

Source: Public Health England (2013)

Drug use and dependency is estimated to cost society £15.4 Billion every year. Some of these estimated costs are broken down below...

 The annual cost of drug addiction

Source: Public Health England (2013)

Drug use also causes a range of harms to individuals who use drugs which includes the following impacts:

 Drug use damages health

 Source: Public Health England (2013)

The government’s 2010 drug strategy set out 3 clear aims: to reduce the demand for drugs; to restrict the supply of drugs; and to promote the recovery of those misusing drugs.

There were 1,613 drug related deaths reported in the United Kingdom in 2012.  The majority of these were deaths of white males under the age of 45 (National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths, 2013).

Drug related deaths are most commonly linked to heroin or morphine use, however, deaths involving hypnotics/sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, continued to rise from being identified in 21.8% of deaths in 2008 to being identified in 30.3% of all drug related deaths in 2012 (House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, 2013).

Number of deaths by drug poisoning from benzodiazepines

 Number of deaths by drug poisoning from benzodiazepines

Source: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee (2013).

Some research studies have found that a lot of acquisitive crime (stealing) is committed by dependent users of heroin and crack cocaine trying to pay for their drugs. It has been suggested that one third to over a half of all acquisitive crime is related to illegal drug use (Drugscope, 2014).

The National Treatment Agency, now part of Public Health England, produced a report called Drug Treatment 2012: Progress Made, Challenges Ahead which highlights that:

Fewer people are using drugs and there are fewer heroin and crack cocaine user in England. Fewer people are injecting drugs. Fewer people are accessing drug treatment but those who do are waiting a shorter amount of time to be treated. More drug users are recovering.

Drug stats overview

For young people, fewer 16-24 year olds are using drugs and so fewer young people needing treatment for heroin or crack cocaine use. Fewer people under 30 are dying from drug use but more people over 40 are dying from drug use. People who use heroin are getting older.

Drug treatment is estimated to save 4.9 million crimes per year and to save £960 Million pounds in costs to the taxpayer.

It is estimated that for every £1 spent on drug treatment, £2.50 is saved (National Treatment Agency, 2012).

 Drug stats overview 2


The effectiveness of the government’s drugs strategy is reviewed annually. The most recent Drug Strategy Review: Delivering Within A New Landscape, published in 2013, reviews progress against the three key strands of the strategy (reducing demand; restricting supply; and increasing recovery). For reducing demand, the report identifies that:

  • In 2012-2013, any drug use by adults aged 16-59 fell from 8.9% in 2011-2012 to 8.2%.
  • Reported drug use amongst 11-15 years old shows that 17% of young people had ever tried drugs in 2012 compared to 29% in 2001. The most common substance used by young people is reportedly cannabis, with 7.5% of young people reporting its use. This has reduced from 13.4% who reported using cannabis in 2001.
  • Three quarters of young people who have been offered drugs report refusing them at least once. This suggests that there is resilience amongst young people which is an important factor in addressing risky behaviours.

The same report identifies that against the drug strategy objective about restricting Supply:

  • There were over 109 tonnes of Class A drugs seized at home or abroad as a result of Serious Organised Crime Activity (SOCA) activity. The number of drug seizures fell slightly by 8% in 2012-2013 from 2011-2012 to a total of 193,980 seizures.
  • The UK has updated the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act legislation to mean that New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) do not have to be individually named in order for them to be classified as illegal. This approach means that all drugs which share common chemical components can be classified as illegal instead of having to name each substance individually. This is important because the number of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) known about by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime rose by 51% between the end of 2009 and mid 2012. In 2009, there were 166 known New Psychoactive Substances and by mid 2012 there were 251.

Against the Building Recovery objective, the report identifies that:

  • The number of heroin or crack cocaine users in England fell to below 300,000 people for the first time.
  • The number of people recovering from drug dependence increased and rose to 29,855.

Recovery capital refers to the resources that an individual has available for them to draw on in order to begin and sustain recovery from substance misuse. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) produced a report called ‘Recovery from drug and alcohol dependence: an overview of the evidence’. In this report they identify what types of recovery capital an individual can draw upon which are:

  • Social Capital. This is the sum of resources that a person has based on their relationships such as friends or family but also includes support from groups and commitments or obligations to groups.
  • Physical Capital. This is defined as the assets an individual has to draw on e.g. money, property and the options that having access to this resource can provide.
  • Human Capital. This includes skills, health, aspirations and hopes, educational attainment and intelligence that can all influence how an individual copes with their recovery journey.
  • Cultural Capital. This includes factors like beliefs and values that link to social conformity and the ability to adapt to social behaviours.

The ACMD report also identifies that there are 13 themes which can have a bearing on recovery. These are:

  • Carers and families
  • Communications including stigma and media
  • Criminal justice
  • Education, training, employment and volunteering
  • Housing
  • Natural recovery
  • Personal finance (including access to benefits)
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Recovery communities
  • Social care
  • Local communities
  • Substance misuse treatment

(Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, 2012)

There are clearly identified benefits to society from providing substance misuse interventions. Some of these include:

 Investing in drug treatment cuts crim and saves money

Source: Public Health England (2013)


York has a lower estimated number of opiate and / or crack cocaine users compared to England rates. This is estimated to be 6.5 people in every 1,000 people compared to 8.7 people in every 1,000 people across England.

However, York has a higher rate of recorded injecting drug use than England rates - 3.8 people in every 1,000 compared to 2.7 people in every 1,000 in England (Public Health England, 2014).

York has a much higher estimated treatment penetration rate – that is, the percentage of people who are accessing treatment as a proportion of those who are estimated to use drugs. For York, 71% of all people estimated to use drugs were in treatment during 2012-2013 compared with 53% nationally (Public Health England, 2014).

York follows the national trend over the last two years of a falling number of people using opiates (heroin) or crack cocaine who are in treatment.

Trends in Opiate users in York Sep 11 to Sep 13

Trends in Opiate users in treatment in England sep 11 to Sep 13

York follows the national trend over the last two years of a rising trend in the numbers of people who use drugs other than heroin or crack cocaine in treatment:

Trends in non opiate users in treatment in York Sep 11 to Sep 13

Trends in non opiate users in treatment in England Sep 11 to Sep 13

In September 2011, York had a lower proportion of non opiate (substances other than heroin) clients in treatment than the national average.

In September 2013, the proportion of non opiate clients in treatment in York had increased in line with the national average.

Opiate and Non Opiate Pie charts York / England Sep 11 to 13

The majority of people new to substance misuse treatment in York who do not use opiates (heroin) or crack cocaine entered treatment because of mephedrone (M-CAT).

This was the case for 78% of people who were new to drug treatment, compared to 48% nationally (Public Health England, 2014).

The numbers of drug users in treatment per 10,000 of ward population were plotted against the ward deprivation score. There is a strong correlation (higher deprivation in a ward is linked to there being a higher number of people living in that ward who are in drug treatment)

Drug users in treatment per 10,00 of adult ward population by ward deprivation

Public Health England produces Alcohol & Drugs:  JSNA Support Packs which identify national and local area performance against key measures. These show measures for York compared to national information and highlight that:

Of people engaged in treatment, York has a similar proportion who are in employment compared to national (19% of clients in treatment compared to 16% across England.

York has similar numbers of clients who are unemployed compared to England levels (61% in York compared to 58% across England).

York has slightly lower rates of successful completions from drug treatment when compared to England. However, York has similar rates of clients who do not return to treatment after completing treatment which is a positive indicator for people achieving sustained recovery from substance use and dependency. 88% of people successfully completing treatment in York do not return to treatment within 6 months. This is the same percentage seen across England.

Transmission of blood borne viruses is a particularly high risk factor for people who inject drugs. This includes viruses such as HIV or Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Vaccinations to protect against Hepatitis B are available. In York 42% of all clients who inject started a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations compared to 23% nationally. However, only 11% completed the course, compared to 20% nationally.

There is no vaccination for the Hepatitis C virus, however, blood screening can identify if an individual has the virus and treatment is then available. In York, 79% of injectors were screened for Hepatitis C compared to 73% across England.

Public Health England produce data about substance misuse in young people in a JSNA support pack. This information can be accessed here and is summarised below.

These figures reflect the number of young people in specialist substance misuse services in York during 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14.

In 2013-2014, there were 88 under 18 year old's accessing specialist substance misuse treatment services, an increase from 52 in 2010-2011 and 69 from 2012-2013. There were an additional 17 people aged between 18-24 who were accessing young people's only services during 2013-2014.

The majority of young people accessing specialist services were referred through the youth justice system (56%) which is higher than the national referral rate through the youth justice system of 31%.

The next two highest referral sources were from self referrals - which includes referrals from family members - (13%) and through education services (12%).

Information within the report highlights the vulnerabilities of those young people accessing specialist substance misuse services during 2013-2014 (given the small numbers of young people identified for some categories, actual data has been withheld to ensure confidentiality).

  • This shows that there are a higher proportion of young people accessing susbtance misuse services who are involved in self-harm, are not in employment, education or training and who are involved in offending than the national profile.
  • A higher proportion of girls than boys are involved in self harm locally and for both girls and boys, this is higher than national rates. It also shows the higher rates of offending behaviour in both girls and boys when compared to national rates.
  • York has the same rates as the national average for young people successfully completing treatment but higher rates than national of those who access services again after having been discharged.

Specialist local drug treatment services are provided in York by Lifeline.

Lifeline also provides support to people who use alcohol. Treatment is offered to address substance misuse holistically; often people may use more than one drug or a combination of drugs and alcohol. Treatment is available to address the use of any substances that an individual uses.

Lifeline contact details are:


3 Blossom St,


YO24 1AU

01904 464680



Many GP practices in York are supported by Lifeline to provide what is called substitute prescribing – this is the prescription of methadone to those people in treatment who use heroin. This provides the client with a way to stabilise their drug use, to stop committing crime in order to fund drug use and to start addressing the reasons that they started to use drugs. This is supported through a number of local pharmacies who dispense methadone as well as sterile injecting equipment to prevent the spread of blood borne viruses.

Narcotics Anonymous

N.A. is a non-profit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. This is a program of complete abstinence from all drugs. There is only ONE requirement for membership, the desire to stop using. We suggest that you keep an open mind and give yourself a break. Our program is a set of principles written so simply that we can follow them in our daily lives. The most important thing about them is that THEY WORK.

There are no strings attached to N.A. We are not affiliated with any other organizations, we have no initiation fees or dues, no pledges to sign, no promises to make to anyone. We are not connected with any political, religious or law enforcement groups, and are under no surveillance at any time. Anyone may join us, regardless of age, race, sexual identity, creed, religion or lack of religion.

We are not interested in what or how much you used or who your connections were, what you have done in the past, how much or how little you have, but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help. The newcomer is the most important person at any meeting, because we can only keep what we have by giving it away. We have learned from our group experience that those who keep coming to our meetings regularly stay clean (Narcotics Anonymous).

NA Helpline:
0300 999 1212


SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery (SMART) is a science-based programme to help people manage their recovery from any type of addictive behaviour. This includes addictive behaviour with substances such as alcohol, nicotine or drugs, or compulsive behaviours such as gambling, sex, eating, shopping, self-harming and so on. SMART stands for ‘Self Management And Recovery Training’.

SMART began in 1994 in the United States. It has grown into a worldwide network of self-help meetings, both face-to-face and online, where participants can get help from others in recovery. SMART operates as a non-profit organisation in many countries including the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia.

There is no single approach to recovery that is right for everyone. Research into various recovery methods and therapies suggests that mutual aid can help recovery and so can treatment – a combination of the two is probably even better for many people.

SMART Recovery helps participants decide whether they have a problem, builds up their motivation to change and offers a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery. This is the SMART Recovery 4-point programme:

  • Building and maintaining motivation
  • Coping with urges
  • Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Living a balanced life

People can stay with SMART as long as they wish. There is no requirement to make a lifetime commitment to the programme, just to their recovery and leading a healthier life.

Many people find that continuing to participate in SMART after they have recovered helps them avoid lapses or relapses. Some will volunteer to train as facilitators and set up further meetings. Others simply continue to attend meetings and share their experiences with others.

Within SMART, labels are not thought to help with recovery and are avoided. People are not called ‘addicts’, ‘alcoholics’, ‘druggies’, ‘overeaters’, ‘sex addicts’ or other disparaging label within meetings.

SMART Recovery will not be able to help with every kind of problem and participants are encouraged to seek professional help when needed.

There are degrees of addictive behaviour and almost everyone will experience this, to some degree, at some point in their life. For some, addictive behaviour will overwhelm their life and SMART Recovery can be an important and effective part of their recovery journey (SMART Recovery).


This page was last updated on 20 April 2015
This page will be reviewed by 20 April 2016