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Over-40s get more drug treatment

Over-40s are the largest group receiving publicly-funded drug treatment in England, new figures have revealed.

The number of clients in treatment aged 40 or over has more than doubled from 32,406 to 65,339 between 2005/06 and 2012/13, Public Health England said.

Middle-aged drug users are particularly hard to help into lasting recovery and many are older heroin users who have "failing health and entrenched addiction problems", the authority warned.

The rise in over-40s clients compares to a fall in drug users in treatment aged 18 to 24-years-old o ver the eight-year period - down from 3 2,948 to 19,547.

This means that in 2012/13 10% of the adult treatment population were aged 18-24 and 34% were aged 40 or over, compared to 19% and 18% in 2005-06 respectively.

Public Health England director of alcohol and drugs Rosanna O'Connor said: "Drug misuse is by its nature a highly challenging issue to address and the indications are that the going is getting even tougher for services in meeting the needs of an evolving and increasingly complex treatment population.

"Local authorities are now responsible for the delivery of treatment in their areas, for ensuring an appropriate response to identified need and continuing to drive recovery in their communities.

"However, treatment cannot do it all, so it also involves supporting people who often lack personal resources into lasting recovery by helping them to find work, decent accommodation, and a positive social network such as a mutual aid group.

"Local authorities are well placed to link together this network of support, working with a range of partners including voluntary and community sector organisations and the NHS (National Health Service)."

The overall number of people in treatment in England continued to fall in 2012/13, Public Health England said, as did the number of people starting treatment for heroin and crack cocaine. This reflects the overall decline in drug use, the authority added.

The total number of people in treatment during 2012/13 was 193,575, down from 197,110 in 2011/12 and from a peak of 210,815 in 2008/09.

The total number starting treatment for heroin or crack cocaine fell from 47,210 in 2011/12 to 45,739 in 2012/1.

While this fell among the 18-24 age group from 4,690 to 3,907, it rose in the 40-and-over age group from 12,535 to 13,233.

The number of people starting treatment for cannabis rose from 10,554 in 2011/12 to 11,280 in 2012/13 and for powder cocaine, new cases rose slightly from 7,059 to 7,372.

Users of mephedrone - a former legal high known as Meow Meow, banned in 2010 - rose from 900 to 1,630 between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

Around 29,025 people successfully completed their treatment programme in 2012/13, down slightly from 29,855 in 2011/12.

The proportion of the treatment population completing successfully remained unchanged at 15% and since 2005, 31% of people in treatment have completed successfully and not returned.

Ms O'Connor added: " Drug recovery is essential to keeping our communities healthy and safe and it remains a high priority for government.

"Public Health England will continue to support local authorities and treatment services with information to help them understand local need, guidance on what works best, practical tools and resources, and bespoke advice."

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