Headlines: June 14th, 1999

Effective drug treatment can halve the misuse of illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. It can also achieve dramatic cuts in crimes such as shoplifting, burglary and drug dealing. These are the findings from The National Treatment Outcome Research Study (NTORS), the largest study of treatment outcomes for drug misusers ever conducted in the UK. Spanning a five-year period, the project is funded by the Department of Health and conducted by the National Addiction Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry/Maudsley Hospital, London.

The study suggests that for every extra one pound spent on drug treatment, more than three pounds is saved on the costs of crime. The study showed that even two years after treatment began, there remains a substantial reduction in criminal behaviour on the part of drug-abusers. Overall the improvements in drug taking, health and criminal behaviour over the two years are impressive, particularly in view of the severity and chronic nature of the problems of the people in the study.

Specific findings of the study include abstinence rates for heroin more than doubled and the proportion of clients using heroin regularly was halved.