Number of people seeking drug and alcohol treatment in line with previous years, Public Health England data reveals

The number of people inquiring and receiving treatment for drug and alcohol conditions between April 2019 and March 2020 has remained comparable to previous years, new statistics published by Public Health England have revealed.

In total, 270,705 people were in contact with drug and alcohol services during the 12-month period, representing a marginal increase of 2,454 on the year 2018-2019 (268,251). Equally, the number of adults receiving treatment in 2019-20 was broadly in line with the previous year, falling slightly to 132,124 from 132,210 – a decrease of 86.

Regarding specific treatments:

  • People in treatment for opiate addiction remains the largest group, and although the figures remain broadly in line with the previous year, there was a slight increase in people seeking treatment for opiate addiction, rising from 139,845 in 2018-19 to 140,599 in 2019-20
  • The number pf people seeking treatment for alcohol addiction remained the next largest group, although the overall number fell from 75,555 to 74,618.
  • Three groups saw increases on the previous year – treatments for non-opiates, non-opiates and alcohol, and for crack cocaine. In the case of crack cocaine, it is the fifth consecutive year where this figure has risen, with the figure now 36% higher than in 2013-2014.
  • The number of people receiving treatment for the use of powdered cocaine also increased, from 20,084 to 21,396. Like crack cocaine, this has been a gradual increase over many years, with the figures now 52% higher than in the year 2011-2012
  • More people were also seeking treatment for ketamine addiction – a trend which has seen a steady rise over the past 6 years. However, the numbers remain small, rising from 980 in 2018-19 to 1,140 in 2019-20.

The statistical report also acknowledges that often there are other factors which need to be addressed in tandem with the alcohol or drug treatment. More than a fifth of adults entering treatment last year said they had a housing problem, while 59% also said they had a mental health treatment need.