Tim Leighton on drugs work and increase of heroin use

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Tim Leighton
Tim Leighton
Location: Wiltshire, UK
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Criminal Justice

 Tim describes the emergent responses to heroin use during the period of rapidly increasing use compared to early treatments

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Sir Russell Brain et al.

...to be a committee to review, in the light of more recent developments, the advice given by the Departmental Committee on Morphine and Heroin Addiction in 1926; to consider whether any revised advice should also cover other drugs liable to produce addiction or to be habit-forming; to consider whether there is a medical need to provide special, including institutional, treatment outside the resources already available, for persons addicted to drugs; and to make recommendations, including proposals for any administrative measures that seem expedient, to the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland.'

HM Stationery Office


'We learned that:

(i)Over the years 1959-1964 the total number of addicts to dangerous drugs (2) known to the Home Ottice had risen from 454 to 753.(3) During this period, the number of heroin addicts had risen from 68 to 342, while the incidence of addiction to other dangerous drugs remained more or less the same (Appendix I). Most of the new addicts were taking heroin.

(ii) The number of cocaine addicts had increased from 30 in 1959 to 211 in 1964. Virtually all of these were using the drug in conjunction with heroin (Appendix I).

(iii) The number of those who had become addicted to dangerous drugs other than as a result of medical treatment had risen from 98 in 1959 to 372 in 1964. For heroin the corresponding figures were 47 and 328 respectively (Appendix I). Thus, out of 342 heroin addicts, 328 were of non-therapeutic(4) origin.

(iv) There had been a significant change in the age distribution of addicts. In 1959 only 50 out of 454 (i.e. 11 per cent) were less than 35 years old ; by 1964 this group numbered 297 out of 753 (i.e. nearly 40 per cent), 40 of them being under 20 years of age (1 being as young as 15). All 40 under 20 and the majority under 35 were taking heroin (Appendix II).

(v) In 1962 the United Kingdom produced 36 kilogrammes of heroin and consumed 40 kilogrammes In 1964 production had risen to 55 kilogrammes and consumption to 50 kilogrammes (Appendix III).These quantities far exceed those of any other country for which returns are published. This is to some extent due to the fact that the United Kingdom is one of the relatively few countries where heroin can legally be used for medical treatment, but the figures are nevertheless very disturbing.

(vi) The increase in addiction to heroin and cocaine appeared to be centred very largely on London, but indications of a similar trend, on a much smaller scale, had been observed in one or two of the other large cities.'
H M Stationery Office

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