Today marks a special day in the global fight against drug abuse. World Drug Day, known also as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, is led by the United Nations in an effort to shed light on misconceptions around drug use, trafficking and the impact of the drug trade on our citizens and societies. The day’s theme “Better knowledge for better care” rings true now more than ever.
As a provider of addiction treatment in the UK, Help Me Stop feels the frontline impact of the drug trade daily. 2020 has seen a landscape of drug use and illicit trafficking like never before, with the availability of substances and their purity increasing by the month across the board. Fatalities due to drug overdose have risen and the isolation mandated by COVID-19 has placed millions of adults worldwide who are struggling with addiction into one of the most difficult periods of their lives.
It’s important we come together to do better. In our own part of this global effort, the Help Me Stop team wants to highlight the present issues faced in the UK in regard to drug trafficking, addiction and the continuum of addiction treatment and care so important to those who need it each day.
Late 2019 saw an alarming statistic reach our headlines: through an analysis of wastewater, cocaine use was found to have doubled over the past five years. Previously of a concentration of 392 milligrams per 1,000 in 2011, new sampling showed as much as 1,000 milligrams. 23kg of cocaine is consumed each day in London alone and what was previously a drug with a purity level of approximately 4% is now circulating in the UK as high as 30-40%.
The result? Lives torn apart from addiction, families and social circles impacted and rising statistics in drug deaths – 4359 from drug poisoning in 2018 alone. That’s the highest since records began in 1993.
And it’s not just cocaine. Studies in recent years have interviewed police officers, treatment staff and researchers from over 30 organisations in the UK, finding heroin purity to reach as high as 40% in some areas and ecstasy pills containing MDMA doses of over 150mg. GHB, a staple of the chemsex scene in the UK, continues to surge in popularity despite its potential for lethal overdose. The similar phenomenon of skunk weed continues to threaten health, with nearly all CBD long bred out of street cannabis in favour of an overwhelming concentration of THC, which can affect mental health and trigger underlying mental illnesses.
COVID-19 and substance abuse.
The need to isolate and distance ourselves could not have come at a worse time where substance abuse and addiction are concerned. Addiction is a disease that pulls individuals away from friends and loved ones, isolating them over time so that sustained and increasing substance misuse is enabled. Many adults struggling with addiction – and those free from substance abuse issues previously – have found themselves slowly drawn into the spiral that begins with recreational abuse before growing into a steady deterioration of quality of life, mental wellbeing and physical state.
And so, a picture comes into view: the illegal supply and trafficking of strong, addictive and dangerous substances continue at a time when adults who consume them are at their most vulnerable. NHS hospitals overloaded due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pubs set to open on July 4, creating the perfect storm of low availability of care and a spike in alcohol consumption, abuse and the domestic abuse and violence that comes with it.
Care must continue.
In the face of these challenges, it’s vital that all treatment providers stand ready to maintain the continuum of care so important to those in need – and for those who soon will be. Help Me Stop is proud to provide two programmes ideal to address the present state of addiction in the UK: Our groundbreaking ‘Digital Dayhab’ programme which is our intensive online treatment option and our face-to-face Dayhab programme which is an effective, accessible, affordable treatment solution that matches or exceeds the success rates of traditional residential alternatives.
To enquire about our programmes, service and commitment to the United Nation’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, please call the team today at 0208 191 8920 or use our contact form.