Children who become serious drug users are likely to cost society £1 million each by the time they reach the age of 30.
For an outlay of just under £4 million per year the Angelus Foundation effective interventions could save society in the region of £40 million initially and far more subsequently as their interventions are implemented more widely in the UK.
Saving just 100 ambulance call outs and 100 hospital beds per week would also save the NHS just under £4 million per year.
Many young people who use psychoactive substances are more likely to have behavioural problems, commit offences and fail to engage with education or training. According to the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health report “The Chance of a Lifetime”, the total cost of crime attributable to people who had conduct problems in childhood has been estimated at about £60 billion a year in England and Wales.
In recent years a significant new global market has developed in new substances; the sale and consumption of new and emerging psychoactive substances which have become known as ‘Legal Highs’.
The escalating prevalence of the use of legal psychoactive substances, particularly among young people must be addressed as a matter of urgency. The impact of the increased use is not limited to the ever growing financial cost, but also has grave and significant impact on families, individuals and society as a whole.
The aim of the Angelus Foundation is to educate, encourage and assist people to be more knowledgeable about the risks to their health and wellbeing of using ‘legal highs’ and other harmful substances, in order that they may be ever more responsible for the choices they make, and as a result lead more wholesome and safer lives.
Facts: It has been estimated that NEETs (16 – 18 year olds who do not engage with education or training) will cost society over £31 billion during their lifetime and NEETs are more likely to experiment with social substances.
• Developing social skills and strong adult role models are crucial in keeping young people off drugs, drink and cigarettes
• A UNICEF study of child wellbeing in 21 industrialised countries placedBritain firmly at the bottom of the table.
• While positive interventions exist, there have been numerous interventions that have made the situation worse.
Reports show children who become serious drug users are likely to cost society £1 million each by the time they reach the age of 30.
• A Youthnet survey, on 600 young people aged 16 – 24, found that 6 out of 10 young people had taken drugs and more than half (52%), said that it had affected relationships with friends – nearly half (47%) said that romantic relationships had been affected by drugs – 45% of those who had taken drugs agreed that it had affected their mental health.
Banning new and emerging substances is generally accepted to not be the answer according to a survey on 150 Mephedrone users. Mephedrone was banned in May 2010 but the survey shows that 63% of users continue to take it, but instead of buying it online they are now buying it from dealers at twice the price.
• The biggest survey of young clubbers, conducted by Dr Adam Winstock and published in MixMag in 2014, showed that
81% of UK clubbers who took the survey had ever taken MDMA – compared to 43.9% of clubbers from rest of world.
17.5% of UK respondents who were regular clubbers had ingested or swallowed a powder in the preceding 12 months without knowing what it was. The figure for clubbers in the rest of the world was 5.8%.
Of UK clubbers, 37% took it a party, 27% at a club, 17% at home, 80.7 were intoxicated, 42% were given it by a stranger. 57% of MDMA users had to seek medical treatment after using the drug had taken MDMA powder. 34.6% had taken pills, 7.7% had taken both.30% of UK clubbers had tried the potent South American psychedelic shrub Salvia divinorum.
These results were from clubbers not young people in general.
• Use of “legal highs” is among freshers is at 19%. 36% have been offered one a recent snapshot survey showed.
Implementing trialled interventions with young people, increasing knowledge and awareness of potential harms, plus understanding the composition and risk of substances, will make significant impact on the cost, wellbeing and the ability of young people to fulfil their life potential.
Despite the many attempted interventions over the years, which have cost untold millions of pounds, problems with the use of these substances in the UKremains deeply problematic. However, there are positive interventions which have been trialled, peer reviewed and published in medical journals around the world which have been identified by Angelus experts as workable solutions.
A projected cost of £3.9 million a year Angelus aims to produce the following outcomes:
• A reduction in the use of “legal highs”, drugs and alcohol in 13-15 year olds in the UK by between 50 and 80% within three years, saving millions of children from taking up illicit drug use, with an associated cost of £3 million. This is the approximate amount that three young people will eventually cost society if they become problematic drug takers. The proposed programme could lead to long-term savings of £1,000 for every £1 spent on evidence-based prevention, making a conservative saving of £3 billion per year in the UK for a £3.9 million outlay.
• Improved conversations between parents and their children reducing the use of psychoactive substances by approximately 50%, with associated costs of £1,089,000 over 3 years, covering an international evaluation and a pilot study, and a further cost of £2000 per family at risk for Functional Family Therapy, with a saving of £3 for every £1 invested
• A reduction in ambulance service, hospital costs (casualty and ICU) saving significant sums of money. It costs £250 per ambulance call out, £500 for a night in hospital and £3-4000 for an ICU bed per night.
Preventing just 100 ambulance call outs per week as well as 100 nights in hospital per week would save a further £3.9 million per year, as well as freeing up valuable resources. This is broadly the same amount needed to fund the Angelus Foundation projects per year for three years.
• A dramatic reduction in violent crimes carried out under the influence of psychoactive substances saving millions of pounds.
• A reduction in the amount of money spent on policing, court and custody costs for drug and alcohol related offences making further significant savings.
• A reduction in the bill for truancy and exclusion from schools due to disconnection and unacceptable behaviour.
• A reduction in the number of young people who drop out of school and become NEETs, reducing the benefits bill by billions of pounds and increasing the number of tax payers; thus bringing in millions of pounds of additional revenue to HM Treasury.