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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Many more drug users seeking help
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Over a third of people have taken drugs in their lifetime, polls suggest
Almost 90% more people with drug dependencies are getting help compared with six years ago, figures show.

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse says its figures suggest England is on track to reach the 100% coverage target by 2008.

In 2004/5, more than 160,000 people received specialist drug treatment compared to 85,000 in 1998/9.

And 30,000 more people had successfully completed or continued treatment at end of March 2005, compared to March 2004.

Paul Hayes, chief executive of the NTA, which is a government body, said: "This is excellent news. More people are getting into treatment more quickly than ever before, and more people are staying the course.

"It shows that the extra money being invested in treatment is paying off. Back in 1998, only one in three problematic drug users were getting treatment - now it's two out of three and rising."

However, he said much remained to be done.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint, said: "Treating drug misusers is central to improving public health and creating safer communities.

There is a need to improve the quality of treatment and not just increase numbers in treatment
Martin Barnes, chief executive of the charity DrugScope

"My challenge is to engage the support of housing, education and employment partners in order to give drug users real opportunities to rebuild their lives and reintegrate with their families and communities."

As drug misuse is an illicit activity it is difficult to quantify, but current estimates suggest there are approximately 250,000 drug misusers in England.

Martin Barnes, chief executive of the charity DrugScope, welcomed the increase in the numbers being treated but added: "The government and the NTA recognise that there is a need to improve the quality of treatment and not just increase numbers in treatment, but this will require more investment in aftercare services and support.

"Better housing, employment and training opportunities and peer group support for former drug users must be higher up the agenda."




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