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
    drugs.

    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
    finds.

    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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