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The UK government has taken a number of measures to tackle drug use, including recent extra £421 million funding to improve drug and alcohol addiction treatment

The recent government announcement that local authorities across England will benefit from an extra £421 million in funding through to 2025 to improve drug and alcohol addiction treatment and recovery, is welcome news. Drug use in the UK stands at a worrying level as statistics show there has been no decline in use. According to a June 2022 report by the Office for National Statistics, approximately 1 in 11 adults aged 16 to 59 years (9.2%; approximately 3 million adults) and approximately 1 in 5 adults aged 16 to 24 years (18.6%; approximately 1.1 million adults). The report also notes that data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) showed no change in the overall level of drug use.

While cannabis has consistently been the most used drug in England and Wales, other drugs like powder cocaine, ecstasy, and nitrous oxide are prevalent as well. The widespread availability of drugs is worrying and there are no signs of a decrease in use across all age brackets. Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said that drug misuse has a massive cost to society - more than 3,000 people died as a result of drug misuse in 2021.

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Joint Combating Drugs Unit - a cross-governmental team based in the Home Office - has long dealt with this pressing issue. Drug use is a major issue in the UK, affecting individuals, families, and communities across the country. The problem is multifaceted and complex, with no single solution. The most commonly used drugs in the UK are cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin. The use of these drugs can lead to a range of health and social problems, including addiction, mental health issues, crime, and violence.

The UK has a long history of drug use, with some drugs becoming more popular at different times. In recent years, there has been a rise in the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) or 'legal highs', which have caused significant harm to users. There has also been a rise in the use of prescription drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, which can be highly addictive and dangerous.

Drug use is often linked to wider social issues, including poverty, deprivation, and social exclusion. Drug use and addiction can also have a significant impact on families and communities, leading to increased demand for social services and support.

The UK government has taken a number of measures to tackle drug use, including providing treatment and support for those who need it, increasing education and awareness, and cracking down on drug-related crime. However, there is still much work to be done to address this complex issue and to provide effective support for those affected by drug use.

Substance abuse in the workplace can have a significant impact on employee performance, productivity, and safety. As an employer, there are several ways to deal with substance abuse in the workplace. It is important to have a clear substance abuse policy in place, outlining the expectations and consequences of drug and alcohol use in the workplace. This policy should also include information about the support and resources available to employees who may be struggling with substance abuse.

Employers should also consider implementing drug testing procedures, particularly in safety-sensitive industries. This can help to identify employees who may be using drugs or alcohol and ensure that they are not putting themselves or others at risk. Drug testing should be conducted in a non-invasive and confidential manner, and employees should be informed of the testing procedures in advance.

In addition, employers can provide education and training to employees on the dangers of substance abuse and the impact it can have on their performance and safety in the workplace. This can help to raise awareness and promote a culture of safety and responsibility.

Employers should provide access to support and treatment for employees who may be struggling with substance abuse. This can include employee assistance programs, counselling, and referral to specialist treatment services. Employees should be aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding substance abuse in the workplace and feel comfortable seeking support and assistance if needed.

Eradicating drug use completely is impossible, but the government can do much to minimise the amount that reaches the streets. Businesses are suffering and families are being torn apart. The funding announcement by the government "builds on the additional £95.4 million made available from 2022 to 2023, and a recent announcement of £53 million to improve housing support for drug and alcohol recovery. Through this investment, the government is delivering on its commitments in the 10-year drug strategy to break the cycle of addiction and reduce overall drug use to a historic 30-year low."

As Tim Young, Chief Executive of The Alcohol and Drug Service (ADS), said regarding the additional government funding, "while there are no quick or easy fixes for systemic problems such as substance misuse, this presents an opportunity to turn those ambitions into reality and provide hope for individuals, families and communities.

By Daniel Elliot

Daniel is a business consultant and analyst, with experience working for government organisations in the UK and US. On his free time, he regularly contributes to International Business Times UK.