Addiction widespread in society with more than half of Britons knowing a victim, new poll finds

More than half of Britons know someone who suffers from addiction as levels of substance abuse soar, a poll today (Monday) shows.


Some 60 per cent of adults say they know an addict, with relatives being the people most identified as victims (27 per cent say they have a relative who has ever suffered from an addiction), the YouGov poll finds.

An even greater proportion of the public - 69 per cent - say there should be more support for those affected by addiction, and 70 per cent think there should be more support for their families, highlighting awareness of the wide scale damage caused to individuals and those who know them.


Alcohol is the most prevalent addiction, with 73 per cent of people who know someone who has ever suffered from an addiction, highlighting it as the kind of addiction suffered.


Nicotine comes second at 40 per cent, with illicit drugs next at 35 per cent and gambling at 23 per cent, but the poll highlights a growing variety of addictions, from porn (five per cent) and sexual behaviour (five per cent) to solvents (three per cent). 


The exclusive poll’s findings are released this week by Action on Addiction, the charity, to coincide with Addiction Awareness Week starting today (Monday) as rates of alcohol and drug abuse soar. 


In 2017, official Government statistics recorded 7,697 alcohol-specific deaths in the UK, which is 12.2 deaths per 100,000 of the population. There were 3,786 deaths that year related to drug poisoning. Meanwhile The Gambling Commission reported the same year that public trust and confidence in gambling is declining and that 69 per cent of people felt that gambling is dangerous for family life.


However public spending cuts have seen treatment and support services severely cut and been estimated to have contributed to a rise in addiction-related deaths.


Spending on drug and alcohol treatment has fallen from £877 million in 2013/14 to £716 million in 1917/18.


Graham Beech, Chief Executive of Action on Addiction, said:


“This poll highlights the widespread and far-reaching impact of addiction. The survey shows that most people (60 per cent) know someone who has suffered from an addiction – a relative, a friend or a work colleague – and think that more support should be done to support people affected by this life-stopping condition which appears to be growing in both scale and complexity.


“Unfortunately, this comes at a time when society’s ability to address the problems associated with addiction is diminishing and people are finding it more and more difficult to access the treatment they need,” he added.


The Duchess of Cambridge, patron of Action on Addiction, will highlight the widespread impact of addiction on individuals and families including children, and the importance of raising awareness of a condition which affects people of all ages and from all walks of life, when she speaks at a gala dinner organised by the charity on 12 June in celebration of Addiction Awareness Week.


The poll was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Action on Addiction between 30th-31st May. The poll questioned 2,379 UK adults. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).


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