However, the question remains if these interventions and expenditure is sufficient to curb the substance scourge of addiction. In this feature we have a look at the government's latest plan to fight addiction, its response as well as how services rendered by the NHS have cost.

The UK's latest plan to combat addiction    

At the height of 2021 the UK Government unveiled its recent strategy to alleviate addiction within the country. The 10-year long plan to contest illegal drugs sets out how the authorities are doing more than before to cut off the provision of illegal substances by criminal gangs and provides people with an addiction a route to a prolific and drug-free life. Reinforced by a record investment of over £3 billion within the next three years, the plan seeks to diminish drug-related crime, death, harm and overall drug use.

The following objectives are sought to be met by the end of 2025

  • distributed a periodical growth of treatment capacity with a minimum of 54,500 new high-quality rehabilitation facilities-an upsurgeof 20% -which includes:
    21,000 new facilities allocated for opiate and crack users, bringing 53% of opiate and crack users into treatment
    a minimum of 7,500 additional treatment facilities for those who are either rough sleeping or at immediate risk of rough sleeping - a 33% increase on the existing statistics
    rehabilitation for each offender with an addiction
  • avoid nearly 1,000 deaths, drawing back the ongoing trend in drug related deaths for the first time in the past ten years.
  • contributed to the prevention of 750,000 crimes including 140,000 neighbourhood crimes through the increases in drug treatment
    shut down over 2,000 more county lines through persistent and strong actio nto intersect the modell in addition to tracking down and arresting the gangs running these illicit substances
    delivered 6,400 major and moderate disruptions - a 20% increase - against activities of organised criminals, including arresting influential suppliers, targeting their finances and dismantling supply chains,
    dramatically increase the renunciation of criminal assets, taking cash, crypto-currency and other assets from the hands of criminals involved intradingand sourcing

During the duration of the 10-year strategy, the government aims to reverse the rising trend in drug use, with a drive to diminish total use towards a historic 30-year low. This will be implemented to support the government's levelling up mission with people's longevity, healthier lives, in safe and productive neighbourhoods.
To accomplish a generational change in demand for illegal drugs, additional steps will be taken to:

  • capitalise £15 million within 3 years in carrying out drug testing on arrest through law enforcement agencies across England and Wales
  • invest £5 million in a novelty fund to create a first-class suggestion base to better recognize what works in driving changes in perceptions towards drug use
  • outlay £9 million on the Tough Consequences out of court disposal's structure which will ensure more people involved in the use of illegal drugs obtain a relevant and proportional consequence - this will discourage the public from drug use through a range of potential civil penalties which may be subject to fines, curfews, or, in the most severe instances, the momentary elimination of driving licences or passports.

Responses to the strategy

  • The strategy has been met with mostly positive responses. There have been disparagements made that the strategy has been unable to countersign a form of harm reduction measures.

Here are a few responses to the strategy.

Collective Voice

The national alliance of drug and alcohol treatment and recovery charities, Collective Voice, remarked that the Government is serious about righting the wrong of close to a decade of disinvestment in England's drug rehabilitation. The organisation said that they are proud to have worked together with authorities to reliably call for this alteration which has the probability to change the lives of thousands of people and their families.


The national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law, Release, said that the Investment in improving the quality and capacity of treatment is "long overdue" subsequent to the 10-year span of expenditure cuts to treatment services. Released said that the transformed focus on recovery is both welcome "yet ironic given that cuts to funding were originally championed by the incumbent Conservative government,".

Further criticism said that the plan's effect is also weakened by its focus on punishment; "a contradiction in terms given that the threat of punishment, and stigmatisation, undermine treatment efforts and prevent people seeking treatment for their drug use, should they want it, in the first place. The strategy proposes to increase punishment for people who supply drugs, and for "lifestyle users" - people who use drugs recreationally - and leaves us in little doubt that we are still in a failed war on drugs." 

Change Grow Live

Another national health and social care charity, Change Grow Live, has welcomed the plan. They have stated that they support the strategy's recognition that addiction must be addressed as a lingering health condition. They further stated that the strategy is a significant breakthrough for drug treatment in addition to a critical first step in eliminating the stigma that averts people from walking through the door of treatment facilities.

Providence Projects

The Providence Projects rehab centre operates both private and NHS funded rehab services, we spoke with the CEO Paul Spanjar on the recent announcements.

"We welcome the move but funding for addiction services remain down from the previous decade. In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs of living, I don't believe the Government have gone far enough in tackling addiction,  which can often manifest during times of economic uncertainty".

How much does substance abuse cost the National Health Services?

The estimated cost to the NHS of treating drug addiction at round £500m a year. The entire cost of alcohol misuse to the NHS in England has been projected to be as much as £3.5bn annually.


It is not likely to remove all drug use and related tribulations. The existing approach has not only been seen as unsuccessful in foiling drug-related damage but itself unswervingly and indirectly causes incalculable problems and difficulties to those who use drugs and society as a whole. It has been said that for legislators to advance the mandate to rationalise drug policies, or to be held responsible if they do not, extensive engagement with the constituency is essential.