More money is to be invested in the treatment of drug misusers in England, the government has announced.
The funding will be invested in treating drug misusers
Health Secretary John Reid pledged £219m for drug treatment services by 2008. He said drug action teams' budgets would increase by 55% .
Mr Reid added that the funding would mean more specialist drugs workers and more in-patient treatment centres.
The National Treatment Agency said the extra funding would enable local services to be improved.
The Department of Health said £179m of the extra money would go directly to Drug Action Teams for the treatment of the 50,000 most seriously affected drug users.
This would include persistent offenders and drug misusers who also have alcohol and mental health problems, who often fail to complete treatment courses.
In addition to more specialist workers and in-patient detox treatment, the extra funding will help treat an extra 40,000 people and expand treatment for under 18s.
'Link to crime'
Health Secretary John Reid said: "This extra funding is crucial to help drug users with the most complex problems who currently tend to drop out of treatment.
"These people go on to commit the most crime, have the greatest health costs associated with their drug use and are most likely to be unemployed and homeless.
"These are all problems that impact on the whole of society and which we are committed to tackling."
He added: "The new money, which will allow 40,000 extra drug users to be helped by 2008, will ensure that more people get the treatment that they need."
The government has also said it will invest an extra £40m a year in drug treatment within prisons to help the estimated 78,000 prisoners who are also drug misusers.
Home Secretary, David Blunkett said: "It is vital that they receive effective treatment if we are to stop the cycle of drug-related offending, which only sees them returning to prison.
"This money will help ensure that we can continue to improve the drug testing and treatment that offenders with serious drug problems desperately need."
Paul Hayes, of the National Treatment Agency which was set up by the government to improve drug misuse treatment, said: "Today's announcement will ensure that each local community has the capacity to improve the quality and effectiveness of treatment, whilst at the same time, continuing to treat even more clients, more quickly."
But Shadow Health Minister Tim Loughton said: "This is too little too late. Recent figures have shown a dramatic increase in drug use and it's particularly more widespread amongst minors.
"We have long advocated that we should be putting far more emphasis on working with children in schools on substance misuse programmes, and provide rapid access to drug treatment programmes.
"At the moment they often have to wait months for help, which only confounds the problems and can lead to mental health complications and towards the slippery slope of crime."
Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, added: "The government has locked the stable door after the horse has bolted.
"Offering the prospect of a lifeline which will only be fully available in four years time provokes the question why Labour have taken seven years to wake up to the scale of the problem."