An independent review into the UK’s current drug policies has recommended that a more “health-based” approach is needed for drug treatment and recovery.

The review, led by Professor Dame Carol Black, examined the harm that drugs can cause and explored possible prevention, treatment, and recovery options.

Published in September 2020, the first phase of the review laid bare the scale of the illicit drugs market, which is worth an estimated £9.4 billion a year. Last year alone, around 3 million people took drugs in England and Wales. In England, around 300,000 people took the most harmful drugs – opiates and/or crack cocaine.

The review also highlighted that drug-related deaths have reached an all-time high, while deaths caused by the misuse of opiates and crack cocaine are closely linked with deprivation and poverty.

There is also a strong association between young people being lured into county lines criminality, and increases in the numbers of children in care or living in poverty.

The second phase of the report, released on 8th July 2021, focuses on setting out a clear pathway for drug treatment and recovery.

In the latest report, Black concludes that the public provision currently available for prevention, treatment and recovery needs urgent repair, describing it as “not fit for purpose”.

The review also suggests that addiction must be recognised as a “chronic health condition” which requires long-term follow-up in the same way as diabetes or hypertension. Discharge after short-term treatment should be avoided, as it disregards the “relapsing and remitting nature” of drug addiction.

Significant investment is required in order to provide a broad range of high-quality treatment and recovery services for young people and adults. Black suggested that this investment should be used to expand services for children, improve local support for peer-led recovery and mentoring, and increase the number of professionally qualified health and social workers.

A wider package of services is also needed, including housing assistance, employment support and mental health services.

AlphaBiolabs provide a range of legal drug testing services to local authorities and organisations involved in family law. We also offer workplace drug testing to keep your business and your employees safe, and we have a home drug test kit available. To learn more, contact our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email