Important Facts about Drug Abuse

Those who have never taken drugs may find it hard to comprehend why others would choose to abuse illegal substances. The reality is that drugs are highly addictive, and nobody actually elects to become addicted. Addiction is an illness that some people are more prone to than others. But did you know that drug abuse and addiction refers to more than just illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine? And did you also know that giving drugs to another person such as a friend is classed as a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence? There are many drug abuse facts that people are simply unaware of; below are just a few examples.

Drug Abuse Facts – The Types of Drugs Involved

Most people think about heroin, cocaine or cannabis when they hear the word drugs, but other substances come under the heading of drugs.

  • Over-the-counter medication – There are some substances that can be purchased by individuals over the age of sixteen that can be classed as drugs. Although these medications are considered to be safe enough to sell without a prescription, they can be dangerous when misused. Taking large doses of medication such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen can lead to a host of physical and mental health problems.
  • Prescription medication – Strong painkillers are only available with a prescription because they are considered to be extremely dangerous when abused. Some of these medications can cause addiction when taken over an extended period of time.
  • New psychoactive substances – Until May 2016, new psychoactive substances were legally available online and in head shops, and they were often referred to as ‘legal highs’. These manufactured substances were sold as incense, plant food or bath salts and were marked as ‘not fit for human consumption’. They are designed to mimic the effects of other illegal drugs such as ecstasy and cannabis. However, they are extremely dangerous and have been linked to many serious health issues, and even death.
  • Illegal drugs – As mentioned above, most people think of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and cannabis when they hear about drug abuse and addiction. And they would be right because, for the most part, these are the most prevalent hard drugs in the world today. These illegal drugs can lead to many problems, not least of which is addiction. There are also many other illegal drugs that cause destruction and devastation to the lives of those affected including crystal meth, mephedrone, and ecstasy.

Drug Abuse and the Law

When it comes to illegal drugs, there are harsh penalties for those who are found in possession. Class A drugs are illegal to have, give away or sell to another person. Those who are found in possession of a Class A drug such as heroin, even if it is for personal use, could face up to seven years in prison plus an unlimited fine. Supplying a Class A drug could mean a life sentence plus an unlimited fine.

Possession of a Class B drug such as cannabis could mean five years behind bars. Supplying the drug to another person (this includes giving it to a friend) could mean fourteen years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Class C drugs are prescription medications such as anabolic steroids or benzodiazepines. These are only available from a pharmacy with a prescription from a doctor. While it is legal to possess Class C drugs for personal use, it is illegal to import these drugs unless it is carried out in person. Those found in possession of Class C drugs with the intent to supply could face up to fourteen years in jail and an unlimited fine.

Drug Abuse and Young People

Below are a number of statistics from Public Health England relating to drug abuse and young people:

  • The number of young people attending substance misuse services decreased in 2014/2015 by 777.
  • The most commonly used drug among young people is cannabis. Of those attending specialist substance misuse services, 86% admitted to having a problem with cannabis.
  • Young people were also receiving treatment for substance misuse of other drugs including ecstasy (7%), amphetamines (9%), cocaine (8%), and new psychoactive substances (5%).
  • 29% of young people receiving help for drug abuse were referred from youth justice services and 26% were referred from education provision. A further 12% were referred from social care. Referrals from the justice system have decreased, but there has been an increase in the number of referrals from education services.

Adults Drug Abuse Facts

  • The age of adults receiving help for drug abuse is increasing; 44% of those receiving help for opiate abuse are aged 40 and over. This is an increase of 21% since 2009/2010.
  • 52% of adults aged 18 to 24 receiving drug treatment in 2014/2015 had problems with cannabis, and 23% had problems with cocaine.
  • 73% of those receiving treatment for drug abuse in 2014/2015 were male.

Drug Abuse and the Economy

Drug abuse has a detrimental effect on the individual and those closest to him or her. Nonetheless, it also has an adverse impact on the wider community and the economy. Those who are affected by drug addiction may suffer from a variety of health problems, which automatically places a burden on the National Health Service.

Nevertheless, it is not just the health service that is affected by drug abuse and addiction. The police service and the criminal justice system are also affected when drug-related crimes are committed. These can include violence, abuse, theft, and fraud.

The cost of prosecuting those who commit drug-related crimes can be extremely high, and this, therefore, affects every single taxpayer in the country.

Drug Abuse Treatment

The good news regarding drug abuse is that there are many treatment options available to those who want help.

As well as NHS-funded programmes, there are many private residential and outpatient clinics providing superb care and support to those affected by drug addiction. In addition, there are charities and local support groups that work tirelessly to make sure that those who need help can access it. For more information, contact us here at


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