The Crack Report - Agencies urged to tackle crack

Drug treatment charities must play a bigger part in tackling the nation's crack problem instead of focusing resources on heroin use, Turning Point has said.

The social care charity said that more agencies should adapt their services to crack users' needs, and urged the Government to respond quickly to the rise in crack use.

It published a report last week showing that although more people now report using crack than heroin, treatment services are still heavily focused on heroin use. It also revealed a gap between the number of crack users and of those in treatment.

"The Government has taken significant steps but it is not moving quickly enough, and neither are treatment agencies," said Turning Point chief executive Victor Adebowale. "Crack misuse is implicated in a range of social problems - it is interwoven with prostitution and dramatically undermines regeneration and neighbourhood renewal initiatives."

Bryan Cusick, manager of the Kaleidoscope Project in Wales, agreed that most services are set up for heroin users, but said that charities often have to decide on the type of services they want to invest in because there is not enough funding to provide treatment for everybody who needs it. "The Government is using a lot of money to cut waiting lists for heroin users who ask for treatment," he said. "But crack users have different needs. They wake up at 4pm, when services are closing."

But charitable think tank Transform, which campaigns for drug legalisation, said simply providing more drug treatment services was not the right answer.

"It's good for Victor Adebowale and his friends to build their empire of drug treatment, but it doesn't address the real problem," said director Danny Kushlick. "Prohibition creates crime, which creates the need for treatment."

Kushlick said both the voluntary and statutory sectors were channelling a lot of resources and policy effort into treatment services that bring few results.

"Only 30 per cent of those who go through treatment recover," he said.

"Drugs should be provided under Government control first - then we should look at the problems."

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