The Home Office has recently published estimates which, for first time, provide a “robust national estimate” of the number of problematic drug users (PDU) in England. The 2004/05 and 2005/06 estimates are the highest estimates ever produced for England and coincide with the highest ever Government annual expenditure on combating illicit drug use. This paper reviews a range of data sources that indicate a downwards trend in problematic drug use in recent years. The validity of the estimates is important for drug policy and the paper considers the implications of both increasing and decreasing levels of problematic drug use.
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