LGA responds to latest adult substance misuse treatment statistics

"As these figures show, more needs to be done to meet increasing demand and a huge amount of unmet need, with more than half a million adults estimated to have alcohol dependency, while a high proportion of those receiving treatment are living in the most deprived areas."


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Responding to the adult substance misuse treatment statistics for 2020/21, which show a small rise in the total number of adults in England in contact with drug and alcohol services to 275,896 compared to last year, Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Drug and alcohol treatment and support services, working alongside local partners, help thousands of people every year as well as relieve the burden on a range of other public services.

“As these figures show, more needs to be done to meet increasing demand and a huge amount of unmet need, with more than half a million adults estimated to have alcohol dependency, while a high proportion of those receiving treatment are living in the most deprived areas.

“We are pleased that government has provided new drug treatment funding for councils. It will meet some – but not all – of the extra cost and significant demand pressures councils’ drug and alcohol treatment services face just to provide services at today’s levels.

“Public health services including for drug and alcohol treatment had to rapidly adapt due to the impact of the pandemic on staffing and facilities, such as moving to remote support, which will provide important lessons for the future.

“Substance misuse and finding solutions for it are complex, but adequate sustainable funding and early intervention can make a significant difference, if we are to build back better from the pandemic.”

Notes to editors

Office for Health Improvement and Disparities: Adult substance misuse treatment statistics 2020 to 2021

The majority of government investment in drug and alcohol treatment comes through the public health grant. Local authorities reported spending £623 million on drug and alcohol treatment in 2019/20, about a fifth of the public health grant for that year.

Councils’ public health grant has been reduced by 24 per cent in real terms, equivalent to £1 billion, since 2015/16.

Every pound spent on drug treatment saves a total of £21 over the course of ten years: Must Know: Treatment and recovery for people with drug or alcohol problems | Local Government Association

Case studies: Helping to support and transform the lives of people affected by drug and alcohol problems