Essential facts, stats and quotes relating to needle and syringe programmes

Essential facts, stats and quotes relating to needle and syringe programmes

This page contains facts, stats and quotes that LPC members may find useful when writing business cases or developing resources to support the commissioning of a needle and syringe programme.

This page is ‘work in progress’ and will continue to be updated with new facts, stats and quotes.

Facts, stats and quotes on other topics can be accessed on the Essential facts, stats and quotes page.

Young people’s statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System: April 2015 – March 2016 (January 2017)

Click here to read the report.

  • Specialist substance misuse services saw fewer young people in 2015/16 than in the previous year (17,077, a drop of 1,272 or 7% compared to 2014/15). This continues a downward trend, year-on-year, since a peak of 24,053 in 2008/09.
  • Just under two-thirds of the young people accessing specialist substance misuse services were male (65%), and just over half (52%) of all persons were aged 16 or over.
  • The most common drug that young people presented to treatment with continued to be cannabis; 87% of young people in specialist services said they have a problem with this drug compared to 86% in 2014/15. The numbers in treatment for cannabis as a primary substance have been on an upward trend since 2005-06, although numbers have dipped slightly in the last two years.
  • Alcohol is the next most commonly cited problematic substance with just under half the young people in treatment (48%) seeking help for its misuse during 2015/16. However, numbers in treatment for alcohol problems have been declining steadily in recent years.
  • The most common routes into specialist substance misuse services were from education provision (28%), youth justice services (26%), and children’s social care (14%). This is the first year of reporting that referrals from education services have exceeded referrals from youth/criminal justice sources.
  • The majority of young people presenting to specialist substance misuse services have other problems or vulnerabilities related to their substance use (such as having mental health problems, being ‘looked after’ or not being in education, employment or training) or wider factors that can impact on their substance use (such as offending, self-harming, experiencing sexual exploitation or domestic abuse).
  • 6% of young people presenting to treatment services in 2015/16 reported experience of sexual exploitation.

Shooting Up: infections among people who inject drugs in the UK (November 2016)

Click here to read the report.

  • HIV infection among people who inject drugs (PWID) remains low in the UK, with one in 100 people who inject psychoactive drugs living with HIV in 2015. HIV transmission continued among this group, and both injecting and sexual risks remain common. HIV is often diagnosed at a late stage among PWID.
  • Around half of people who inject psychoactive drugs have been infected with hepatitis C; however, about half of those infected remain unaware of their status.
  • Hepatitis B infection is now rare among PWID. It is a concern, however, that the uptake of the hepatitis B vaccine is no longer increasing among people who inject psychoactive drugs.
  • Bacterial infections remain common among PWID; some of these cause severe illnesses that can have a large impact on health services.

Adult substance misuse statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (December 2015)

Click here to read the report.

  • Injecting status at presentation for treatment was recorded for 134,685 individuals (95%) who entered treatment in 2014/15. The majority of individuals presenting to treatment have never injected (76%), though there was variation by substance with 96% of alcohol only clients having never injected any substance compared to 38% of opiate clients.
  • Sharing of injecting equipment is the single biggest factor in blood-borne virus transmission among individuals who use and inject drugs. It also elevates mortality risk and those who inject have a more complex profile, and are therefore harder to treat.

Public Health England, Hepatitis C in the UK: 2015 report (August 2015)

Click here to read the report.

  • In England, indirect measures of needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) coverage suggest that the vast majority of people who inject drugs are accessing needle and syringe programmes (NSP); in 2014, the UAM Survey found that 85% of people who had injected drugs in the previous year reported that they had used an NSP during that time.
  • The number of people who inject drugs in England receiving drug treatment has increased from 97,080 in 2006/07 to 107,670 in 2013/14.
  • While data suggests that NSPs are being accessed by many people who inject drugs across the UK, there remains a need to increase the amount of equipment distributed in many areas, with better targeting of this provision and education on appropriate needle and syringe cleaning techniques.

From community pharmacy to healthy living pharmacy: Positive early experiences from Portsmouth, England. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy (2014)

Brown D, Portlock J, Rutter P, Nazar Z. From community pharmacy to healthy living pharmacy: Positive early experiences from Portsmouth, England. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy; 10: 72 – 87 (2014)

Click here to view the abstract.

  • Brown et al found that pharmacy-based methadone administrative services and needle exchange services received high attendance and proved to be a cost-effective approach.

Guide to starting and manging needle and syringe programmes (World Health Organisation, 2007)

  • The advantage of pharmacy NSPs is that in most areas a network of pharmacies already exists (usually in greater numbers and located closer to drug injectors’ homes than most fixed-site NSPs) and their opening hours are often more convenient than those of fixed site NSPs.



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