Nearly one in five adults in the UK have had personal experience of drug addiction either directly or through their family and friends, according to a new published today by DrugScope.
The poll of more than 1,000 adults across the country also revealed that one in 20 respondents had witnessed drug addiction in their family and one in 50 had themselves been addicted at some point.
The figures for adults aged 18 to 34 were found to be higher, with 27% of respondents admitting to direct or indirect experience of drug addition.
Addiction ‘touches many lives’
DrugScope said that although the survey did not show that the number of people with a drug problem had increased over recent years, it indicated that dependency was a “social problem that touches many people’s lives”.
The survey also revealed that 80% of people thought that people could become addicted to drugs because of other problems in their lives, whereas only 35% said that addiction was always the fault of the individual.
In addition, 77% agreed that investment in drug treatment was a sensible use for government money.
Sympathy ‘in contrast to media portrayal’
The charity said that the public’s sympathetic response was in “sharp contrast” to many media reports. Chief executive Martin Barnes commented: “Every drug user is someone’s daughter or somebody’s son. It may be hard for a lot of people to reconcile the ‘junkies’ or ‘crackheads’ of many a headline with the person they know and love who has struggled with dependency.
“It’s encouraging that the majority of respondents – regardless of their own experience – understood that someone’s drug dependence will often stem from a number of other problems in their life and agreed that drug treatment should be available to all those who need it.”