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Surge in number of aging addicts sees drug deaths on the up as budget falls

PUBLISHED: 13:58 05 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:32 22 June 2018

Cllr Patricia Callaghan

Cllr Patricia Callaghan

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A boom in the number of drug users living into their golden years in Camden has seen the rate of addiction-related deaths increase by more than half since 2013.

It comes as Camden Council is spending £3.3million less on drug and alcohol treatment than it was five years ago.

Deaths from drug misuse have increased in that time by 61 per cent – from 26 a year to 42 a year.

Private rehab firm UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) obtained the figures by asking all local authorities across England about their budgets for the vital services.

In Camden, the freedom of information (FOI) request found the town hall was spending 34pc less than it was in 2013.

Back then, the budget for drug and alcohol treatment was £9,622,712. This year, it is £6,324,700.

Camden’s health chief Cllr Pat Callaghan said the budget cuts were because of overall government cuts to the borough.

“Despite the funding pressures we are committed to ensuring there is no reduction in the quality of these local services and to working closely with service users and carers to understand and address substance misuse issues in our communities,” she said.

“A rise in drugs related deaths in Camden is in line with the increase seen in London and nationally. The council are taking action to better understand this trend and prevent future drug-related deaths, which in part is due to a significant increase in people aged 60 and over accessing treatment services. These older service users, often with a long history of drug use, tend to be in poor health, resulting in an increased risk of death.

“Local drug services are working very closely with other local health and social care services to ensure that older service users’ physical and mental health needs are being met, alongside their substance misuse needs.”

Eytan Alexander, founder of UKAT, said: “It’s difficult for Camden Council to deny the link between the drop off in budget allocation for drug and alcohol treatment services and the rise in drug-related deaths, and we hope for better spending decisions next year in order to help those most vulnerable in society.”

Check out www.ukat.co.uk for more on its work.

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