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Latest drugs data shows more on road to recovery

Thursday 6th October 2011

The number of illegal drug users recovering from addiction has risen significantly in the last year, according to the latest official statistics for England released today by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. This reflects the government's Drug Strategy goal to enable more people to recover from addiction to illegal drugs.

The annual figures also confirm another sharp decline in the number of young adults under 30 needing treatment for addiction to the most problematic drugs. Overall the numbers accessing treatment for all drugs have fallen for the second year running.

The figures are analysed in an NTA report, Drug treatment and recovery 2010-11, which also includes a new analysis of drug treatment trends over the last six years. It shows:

  • A jump in the number of people recovering from addiction: 27,969 this year compared to 23,680 last year, an annual increase of 18% (and a 150% increase since 2005/06).
  • Of the 255,556 unique individuals who entered a treatment programme since April 2005 for the first time, 71,887 (28%) successfully completed and did not need further treatment.
  • The more recently someone came into treatment, the more likely they are to succeed in tackling dependency.
  • A fall in the number of people needing treatment for addiction to illegal drugs, including a reduction of almost 10,000 in the number of heroin and crack users coming into treatment in just two years.

Paul Hayes, NTA Chief Executive said: “More drug users are recovering from addiction, fewer need treatment, and more are getting over their addiction quickly. The concerted efforts to fulfil the aims of the Drug Strategy by putting recovery at the heart of treatment are paying off.

“The fact that the next generation are getting the message that hard drugs wreak damage to individuals and communities is very positive, for them and the rest of society. Fewer people coming into treatment, whilst waiting times remain low, are signs that the huge problem created by the heroin epidemic of the 1980s and 90s is being effectively tackled.

“Addiction remains a serious problem for many communities, and we need to remain vigilant, particularly in a tough economic climate. But the figures show that recovery is now becoming a reality for more individuals each year.”


The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) is a National Health Service (NHS) special health authority which aims to improve the availability, capacity and effectiveness of drug treatment in England. 

The NTA commentary Drug treatment and recovery 2010-11 is available here or email

The ONS statistical report, tables and technical notes are available here.

For further information please contact the NTA press office on 020 7972 1921/ 1922 or out of hours call 07795 036460.

Local and regional breakdowns of the number of people recovering from addiction can be sourced on request.