New research ‘makes the case’ for investment in young people’s drug and alcohol treatment

 

24 February 2011

DrugScope has welcomed new research demonstrating that drug treatment services for young people are extremely cost effective, with long term savings of between £5 and £8 for every pound invested.
Published by the Department for Education, the report, Specialist drug and alcohol services for young people – a cost benefit analysis, finds that drug and alcohol treatment for young people reduces otherwise significant economic, social and health costs. Immediate savings are achieved in reduced crime and improved health. In the longer term, there are reductions in costs associated with problematic drug use in adulthood, including unemployment, crime and drug and alcohol dependency.

Approximately 24,000 young people received specialist drug and alcohol treatment in the UK in 2008/09. Most were treatedprimarily for alcohol (37%) or cannabis (53%); one in ten were treated for problems associated with Class A drugs, including heroin and crack.
A report published by DrugScope in 2009, Young people’s drug treatment at the crossroads, found that as well as helping young people with their drug or alcohol problems, treatment services also address wider needs, such as mental health issues, involvement with the criminal justice system and social exclusion. Despite evidence of the cost effectiveness of spending on substance misuse treatment, many young people’s services have contacted DrugScope to report significant cuts in local funding.  Commenting on the report, Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of DrugScope said:
“At a time when many drug and alcohol services for young people are facing funding cuts, this research makes a timely, compelling and robust case for continued investment. Even on quite cautious and conservative estimates, the evidence shows that there are immediate net gains in return for spending on drug and alcohol treatment. Not only will cuts in services have a negative impact on vulnerable young people, the research confirms that greater costs are likely to be incurred in terms of crime, unemployment and poor health.
“The concern is that with a record number of young people not in education, employment or training there will be a greater demand on prevention and treatment services. It is far easier to prevent young people from developing problems at an early stage that it is to treat adults with addiction issues. A considered assessment of the benefits to local communities of investment in drug and alcohol treatment services needs to be made to inform decisions on funding.”

Source: www.drugscope.org.uk 24 Feb 2011

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