Study underlines crisis in drug abuse

Intravenous drug use is as common as diabetes and more prevalent
than epilepsy among young adults in three English cities, new
research suggests.

The study estimates that between 1.25 and 2 per cent of 15 to
44-year-olds in London, Brighton and Liverpool are now injecting

But just 22 per cent of drug users in London and Liverpool and only
16 per cent in Brighton appear to be receiving treatment despite
the government’s target to double the number, the study

It also estimates that sterile syringes are used in just a fifth of
drug injections in London, and for 27 per cent in Brighton and
Liverpool, raising concerns about hepatitis C and HIV transmission
from shared needles.

The researchers, led by Professor Martin Bellis of Liverpool John
Moores University, are also concerned that the proportion of opiate
users dying from overdoses in Brighton is 2 per cent – double that
in London and Liverpool.

Martin Barnes, chief executive of charity DrugScope, said: “This
study reveals worrying levels of injecting drug use and highlights
the need to focus on drug use as an important public health issue
as well as a crime problem.”

Shona Beaton, chief executive of London Drug and Alcohol Network,
said more needle exchanges were needed in London and access to
sterile equipment should be wider.

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