Fentanyl could be the tipping point


Leading the way on opioids

The Guardian's UK journalist John Harris has provided some startling numbers on the escalation of fentanyl-related deaths in the UK, with more than 60 deaths involved the opioid drug. 

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has said that the number of reported drug deaths involving opioids including heroin had risen over the previous four years by 58% in England, 23% in Wales and 21% in Scotland

The picture Harris paints is of everyday life where syringes are discarded in parks, burglaries are carried out by desperate addicts and the readers of newspapers absorb editorial after editorial about yet another death. 

Much like the experience of Victoria and North Richmond in particular in Melbourne, the tipping point may well be the police and crime commissioners taking a view that treatment is a better remedy than getting 'tough'. 'Nothing is getting better,' according to David Jamieson the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands. According to Harris, if you combine drug-related crime, use of the NHS, social care and drug-related deaths, heroin and crack users in the West Midlands cost the public 1.4billion UK pounds per year. 

Part of the UK's policy thinking is moving towards heroin-assisted treatment including supervised injecting facilities. With Melbourne about to open its first medically supervised injecting centre later this year in North Richmond, we should be aware of the policy influence we can provide not just in Australia but globally and look not just where we can lead, but what we can learn from Sydney, where their MSIC has been open since 2001 and other jurisdictions internationally.

Turning Point provides policy analysis, research and knowledge development across the full range of addiction, click here for more on the opioid crisis.