Drugs and alcohol hit people harder in deprived areas

Breathing difficulties, blood viruses, liver problems and mental illness – these are the stark health conditions drug addicts in Sheffield are facing.

Sheffield Council bosses have revealed how drug addicts don’t just die from overdoses – and how being in treatment is the one biggest thing addicts can do to stay healthy.

Carol Fordham, vulnerable children and young people’s commissioning manager, presented a report to the council on how youngsters were being helped but it also had some shocking details about adults who are addicts.

“Drug-related deaths are increasing nationally, which is mirrored locally,” the report said.

“The reasons for this are numerous, and go beyond overdose deaths. It includes an ageing cohort of opiate users experiencing poor physical health, and often respiratory issues, blood borne viruses, liver problems, and mental ill health resulting in an increase in death by suicide among people using substances.

“All evidence shows that being in treatment is the single most significant protective factor against drug related deaths.

“Substance use impacts individuals, families, children, and communities. Intervening in earlier life will help reduce the number of people who go on to develop long term health problems.”

The report says the problem is worse in deprived areas – even drinking alcohol affects people differently depending on where they live.

“The impact is disproportionate in some areas of the city, with deprived communities experiencing higher levels of substance use related harm.

“There is overwhelming evidence that drug and alcohol use disorders disproportionately impact on disadvantaged groups in society, including people with disabilities, especially mental health issues, BAME and deprived communities.

“In addition, relating specifically to alcohol use, people in more deprived communities will experience disproportionately high levels of harm from the same alcohol consumption as someone in a more affluent community, due to the impact of other health inequalities they experience.”

The report adds that ‘good quality’ drug and alcohol support services are essential to help people turn their lives around and build stronger families and communities.

“Ensuring that there is good quality, accessible treatment in Sheffield, will make a significant contribution to reducing these harms.

“People using substances are often discriminated against and experience multiple and complex disadvantages. The process aims to ensure quickly and easily accessible, compassionate, individualised support at the right time.”

The annual cost of alcohol abuse in England is £21.5 billion a year

The annual cost of illicit drug use in the UK is £10.7 billion a year

These costs include lost economic productivity, crime, policing and the NHS

Drug and alcohol treatment in England in 2016/17 resulted in 4.4 million fewer crimes

There was a 44 per cent reduction in the number of individuals re-offending

And a 33 per cent decrease in the number of offences committed