NHS reforms

30.04.18

RCP supports fresh public health approach to ‘war on drugs’

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has voiced its support for the Royal Society of Public Health’s (RSPH’s) report ‘Taking a New Line on Drugs,’ which calls for illicit drug use to be decriminalised and made a public heath matter, rather than criminal.

The RCP says it “strongly supports the view that drug addiction must be considered a health issue” as statistics suggest that death and harm from illegal drug use is an increasing problem.

In 2015 there were 2,479 registered drug-related deaths in England and Wales. This is an increase of 10% from 2014 and 48% from 2005.

More recent data for England from 2015-16 says there were 81,904 hospital admissions where drug-related mental and/or behavioural disorders were a primary or secondary diagnosis, a 9% increase from the year before.

In the same period, there were 15,074 admissions where poisoning from an illicit drug was the primary diagnosis, a 51% increase from the decade before.

The RCP says these figures “demonstrate a clear need for physical, psychological and social support and care for people addicted to drugs.”

The RSPH report does however emphasise that, although personal drug use should be decriminalised, dealers, suppliers and importers of illegal substances would still be actively pursued and prosecuted.

The report also calls to transfer lead responsibility of illegal drug strategy to the Department of Health and Social Care, prevent drug harm through universal personal, social, health and economic education in UK schools, as well as creating evidence-based drug harm profiles to supplant the existing classification system.

NHE has contacted the RCP for comment.

 

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