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Growing number of older people in UK misusing drugs: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows a view to the entry of an NHS hospital in London's Chelsea area.

A growing number of middle-aged and older people in Britain are ending up in hospital suffering serious mental health problems after taking drugs, new government statistics reveal.

The number of people above 45 who end up in hospital after taking drugs has increased by 85 percent over the past decade, statistics published on Sunday by the National Health Service (NHS) showed.

The people admitted to hospitals for such drug-related disorders displayed symptoms like hallucinations, confusion, extreme agitation and disinhibition, the NHS said.

Authorities also reported a 32-percent increase in the number of people above 55 who had been poisoned over the last six years as a result of taking drugs.

The surge in addiction in Britain has been evident across all age groups, with many blaming government’s approach to the issue as a main reason.

There have also been problems with the health system which reportedly offers fewer specialist treatment services for those affected by drug misuse.

Ian Hamilton, associate professor of addiction at the University of York, told the Guardian newspaper that government cuts to services specialized in drug treatment was a main cause for older people to become addicted.

“It is clear from this data that older people are suffering the consequences of cuts made to drug treatment services over recent years,” said Hamilton.

"Unfortunately treatment services are being directed to offer abstinence-based services rather than maintaining this group on substitute drugs like methadone.”

Under the former Labour government, the approach to drug addiction was mainly a long-established “harm reduction” one.

However, the Conservative-led coalition government that came to power in 2010 adopted a different policy and sought to increase the numbers of people addicted to various drugs giving up altogether.

Government cuts to the overall social care budget and its lax control on drug cartels have also played a role in the increased drug use and trafficking which many believe has caused a major surge in violent crimes across the UK.

The country has seen thousands killed in violent street brawls involving knife over the past years. Experts say many of those fights come as a result of rivalry between the youth working for drug trafficking networks.


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