Page last updated at 06:50 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 07:50 UK

'Massive strides' in drugs battle

Heroin (generic)
The misuse of drugs directly causes 90 deaths in Wales each year

"Massive strides forward" have been taken in tackling drug misuse according to the minister for social justice.

Dr Brian Gibbons said over the last five years, the number of places made available for the treatment of drug abuse had risen from 2,500 to 30,000.

Around 90 people die every year due to drug abuse and the economic and social costs of alcohol and class A drug misuse in Wales is estimated at 2bn.

A 10-year substance misuse strategy for Wales was announced in February.

According to the assembly government, the misuse of drugs directly causes 90 deaths in Wales each year and can lead to family break up, anti-social behaviour, crime, domestic violence and poor health.

Its new strategy will focus on prevention, supporting substance misusers and their families and tackling the availability of drugs.

Speaking as part of National Tackling Drugs Week, which aims to highlight the damage caused by drugs and the efforts being made to tackle the problem, Dr Gibbons said it was important to carry on supporting addicts after they came off drugs.

Claire Jenkins
I had to use drugs because I was desperately ill without them, it was the only way of living that I knew.
Claire Jenkins

"It is about not just focusing on the drug but what else we can do to help people re-build their lives and tackle getting people the access to the services, which they need to have confidence in," he said.

"I am sure it (the policies) can always be better but if you look back five years and look at what was available and what is available now, there is no doubt we have made massive strides forward," he added.

Recovering drug addict Claire Jenkins from Swansea said it took the deaths of friends and boyfriends and her own overdoses to make her realise she needed to tackle her own problem, which had lasted for around 15 years.

"I didn't know how to stop," she explained. "The drugs had a hold over me.

"I had to use drugs because I was desperately ill without them. It was the only way of living that I knew. I knew the life of using drugs, I knew how to cheat, how to steal, how to get and use drugs.

"In the end I was attacked because of my drug use and I was put in hospital for over six weeks and I nearly died. I knew then that I had to stop using drugs or I would die. I desperately wanted to change the way I was living. "

The consultation on the 10-year drugs strategy has just been completed and will be formally launched later in the year.

It will be backed by an extra 9.6m over the next three years taking the total to over 27m a year.

Nearly 11m a year ring-fenced funding is also being provided to local health boards for tackling substance misuse.




SEE ALSO
Heroin lifestyle 'another world'
18 Apr 08 |  South West Wales
Police heroin death overdose plea
01 Apr 08 |  South West Wales

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