Police in the UK currently do not regularly test drivers for drugs - despite thousands of accidents each year being caused by high drivers.
A mother and her two sons have been jailed over a failed plot to smuggle more than £6 million of heroin from Turkey to Liverpool.
A UK scientist who got funding to begin the world's first magic mushroom depression trial has hit out at rules that have stalled his study.
One of the country's top police officers has called for class-A drugs to be decriminalised to break the monopoly and income stream of criminal gangs.
Mike Barton, Durham's chief constable, has called for the policy of outright prohibition to be radically revised and suggested that the NHS could supply drugs to addicts.
Barton has compared drugs prohibition to the ban on alcohol in 1920s America that gave rise to Al Capone and the mafia. He argues, in The Observer, that criminalising the drugs trade puts billions of pounds into the pockets of criminal gangs.
A major new report over the UK's drug and alcohol use shows the "stark reality" of addiction, the chairwoman of the Centre of Social Justice review said today.
Noreen Oliver added:
Despite some slow progress in this last three years, much more needs to be done to tackle the root causes of addiction so that people have a better chance of breaking free.
Alcohol is taking an increasing toll across all services in the UK and new emerging drugs are causing more harm - all the while funding to rehabilitation centres is being dramatically cut and methadone prescribing is being protected.
The Centre of Social Justice has criticised the government for what it calls an "inadequate response to heroin addiction" in the UK, after it published a new report suggesting that the UK has some of the highest rates of opiate addiction and dependence on alcohol.
According to the report:
- Alcohol and drug abuse costs the UK £21 billion and £15 billion respectively
- 40,000 drug addicts in England have been stranded on the substitute methadone
- Rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England doubles in a decade
- One in 12 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the UK - more than 670,000 - said they have taken "legal highs" or new psychoactive substances (NPS)
- In England 6,486 people were treated in 2011/12 for abusing these types of drugs, an increase of 39% since 2005/06
- Figures revealed deaths involving "legal highs" in England and Wales increased from 29 in 2011 to 52 last year
The drug and alcohol crisis is fuelling a social breakdown in Britain, the director of the Centre of Social Justice said today, after a report found that 'legal highs' were widely available from UK websites.
Christian Guy said:
While our addiction problem damages the economy, it is the human consequences that present the real tragedy.
Drug and alcohol abuse fuels poverty and deprivation, leading to family breakdown and child neglect, homelessness, crime, debt, and long-term worklessness.
From its impact on children to its consequences for pensioners, dependency destroys lives, wrecks families and blights communities.
The UK has been labelled as the "addiction capital" of Europe, according to a new report by the Centre of Social Justice.
The report, No Quick Fix, suggests the UK has become a hub for websites peddling dangerous ‘legal highs’, or ‘club drugs’, such as Salvia and Green Rolex, which are being ordered online and delivered across the country by mainstream postal services.
It also found that websites give people the chance to buy class A drugs like heroin and crack cocaine on mail order.
– Department of Health spokesman
Drugs ruin lives and cause misery to families and communities and this Government is committed to breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol dependency.
The UK approach is to consider drug use as both a health and criminal issue and so the CMO is not saying anything new.
England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has admitted eating hash cookies at university.
She said drug addiction should be seen as a medical problem, but that society chooses to treat it as a criminal justice issue.
Speaking on BBC Radio 3's Private Passions, Prof Davies said of her university days in the 1970s: "I never smoked so I couldn't smoke joints but I did have some cookies, until on the third or fourth occasion I had hallucinations and I've never touched it since.
"And I think I understood through that what my father said to me when I told him I was going to try it. He said: 'Drugs decivlise you. You stop being a civilised person.'
"And I understood why so many people were against even the soft drugs. So, like the fact I do enjoy wine, I'm open about my past."
She added: "Of course it's a medical problem, I mean addiction is a medical problem, and it becomes a public health problem and then our society is choosing to treat that as a criminal justice issue."
Seven percent of young motorists have admitted to driving after taking illegal drugs, according to a survey.
Of those 17 to 25 year olds who said they had driven while on illegal drugs, 84 percent said they had driven "on a cocktail of drink and drugs".
Twenty-three percent of the 4,000 respondents said they had been in a vehicle with a driver who was either drunk or had taken drugs.
The survey was carried out by road safety charity Brake and the companies 3M and Alcosense.
The proportion of adults who say they take illegal drugs in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since records began, according to a Home Office report.
Around one in 12 adults - 8.2% - took an illicit drug in the last year, compared to 11.1% in 1996, the study suggests.
Cannabis was the most commonly used drug, with 6.4% of those surveyed using it last year. The next most commonly used drug was cocaine, at 1.9%.
Questions were added to the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales for the first time on the use of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas.
Although 2% of respondents aged 16-59 said they had taken laughing gas in the last year, that figure rose to 6.1% when considering 16-24 year olds.
The Pope took a strong stance against the legalisation of drugs as a means to fight drug addiction and criticized the trend in Latin America to decriminalise narcotics.
In his first public address on the issue, the new Pope Francis said education was the way to end drug use.
The pontiff was visiting a new treatment facility for alcoholics and drug addicts at the Sao Francisco Hospital in Rio de Janeiro as part of his week-long visit to Brazil centred on the Catholic Church's World Youth Day.