Lack of Access to Rehabilitation has Caused an Increase in the Risk of Death From Drug Use Since 2010

Lack of Access to Rehabilitation has Caused an Increase in the Risk of Death From Drug Use Since 2010

Rehab centres are tried and tested methods of helping people find addiction recovery. Recently, a study conducted by University College London (UCL) and the University of Bristol, found results to support this. The report shows that since 2010, drug deaths have risen. They explain this horrific statistic by looking at how access to rehabilitation has been limited in recent years. 

No one should die from addiction; it’s not a moral failing. Those suffering are more than a statistic. They are people with worried mothers, brothers, sisters, partners, and friends. 

While trying and battling addiction alone may be tempting, this study shows how doing so could be fatal. Due to budget cuts, the U.K. is now seeing the highest rate of drug-related deaths in history. 


Since 2010 drug-related deaths have soared. In 2020, 4,561 people died preventable deaths, compared to 2,597 in 2012. An increase of 40% in eight years is a shocking and unnecessary rise. Some people have inadequately sought to explain this rise in deaths by stating it is a result of the opioid-addicted population ageing. However, this latest study shows a more accurate explanation; the new government’s disinvestment in addiction treatment services around the country.


Rehab affords a person a chance to detox in an environment that is safe. As the withdrawal period is the time when a person is most likely to relapse, detoxing in a rehab centre can prevent that from happening. When you minimise the risk of relapse, you give some a real chance at long-term, or even lifelong, recovery. 

In rehab, a person may also be given medications that can help with the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Drug withdrawal can range from moderate to severe, depending on the substance the person is addicted to and the severity of the addiction itself. Withdrawal can present physical symptoms such as; nausea, vomiting and tremors. However, withdrawal can also create difficult psychological symptoms as well. A person in withdrawal may struggle with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. Going through this process in a rehab centre surrounded by professional support can ensure a person does not relapse or hurt themselves. 

Many studies have shown that people suffering from addiction benefit hugely from having a recovery community. Rehabilitation centres can offer this community, with the person being surrounded by other people on a similar journey. Many addiction counsellors have gone through a personal addiction struggle, so they know first-hand the experiences of the people they are helping. As well as this, it is not just the person who struggles with the ramifications of addiction. It is also their families, partners and loved ones too. Attending a rehabilitation centre can provide a supportive community to loved ones as well. 

Political Change

In 2012, the U.K. government released their 2012 Health Act. This act transferred public health from the NHS to local councils. Furthermore, these community drug treatment services cut their budget by 33%. This meant that addiction treatment services were greatly reduced and limited in nature. They may be able to offer basic care but would be limited. People struggling with addiction are a vulnerable population and they require long-term care to have a successful lifelong recovery. The study highlights the need for investment in methadone treatment in particular. Methadone is a type of addiction medication that is successful in treating heroin addiction. The study argues that when access for people receiving methadone treatment is limited, people will die from their addiction. Without adequate government investment, those who need it most will struggle to gain access to such protective treatments. 

Problems With Government Strategy

While society as a whole has made leaps in terms of addiction stigma, it is still present from the top down. Boris Johnson recently announced a £780m investment in community treatment services. This strategy is part of a ten-year drug treatment plan that seeks to combat the rising number of deaths. 

There is no quantifying how much damage active addiction can do to a person’s life. This recent study also shows how the heroin population struggle with poverty, mental health problems and homelessness. This population needs more support than ever and yet, their funding has been limited. Now more than ever, effective addiction treatments like clean needle access and addiction counselling should be offered at the community level. 

The government’s strategy outlined how they attempted to crack down on substance use disorder among the middle class. This is redundant, as it fails to address addiction as a population issue, rather than a class issue. 

However, the language used in the unveiling of this new strategy was particularly telling. In their strategy, they frequently labelled addiction incorrectly. Referring to addiction, a chronic illness, as ‘drug misuse’ is harmful. Throughout the strategy, people suffering from addiction are unfairly painted as criminals, rather than people who simply need medical help with a chronic illness. This type of language shows how misled the government can be in terms of addiction recovery. It further illustrates the greater benefit private addiction care can offer people on this journey of recovery.

Addiction Recovery

With supportive, non-judgemental care, a person struggling with addiction can ensure lifelong recovery. As we know, addiction not only affects the person but their loved ones as well, so support is needed for everyone. Recovery may be a long and difficult journey, but it is always worth it in the end. No one should have to die from addiction. 

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