Addiction trends in London were at their lowest ever recorded point at the beginning of the 20th Century. Since then, substance misuse, alcohol abuse and drug-related deaths have steadily risen leading us up to today.
The trends recorded for addiction in London are representative of the rest of the UK, which has seen drug and alcohol-related deaths soar to unimaginable levels throughout the last 18 years.
The biggest addiction trend this Century has seen is the ever-increasing levels of opiate addiction, opiate dependence and opiate abuse that has consequently led to numerous opiate-related deaths.
Prescription opiates, synthetic opiates, black market prescription painkillers and high strength street opiates have all contributed to the UK’s current opioid crisis. London, as the capital city is where most addiction trends start. In this article, we look at London’s addiction trends throughout the 20th Century starting from the beginning and leading up to today.
Cocaine Hits London City’s Trading Floors
Cocaine-related deaths have more than doubled in the past 4 years due to increased potency, but historically from early in the 20th Century, there has been a trend of London’s city bankers and traders developing addiction and substance misuse problems with this particular Class A stimulant drug.
Why? Because cocaine enhances performance, alertness and confidence. It also enables the user to stay awake and on the ball for extended periods of time.
We spoke to an ex-city trader, Danny, 45 from London, who is now in recovery from cocaine addiction following an inpatient programme at our drug rehab in Clapham London:
“Ten to fifteen years ago the trading floors were flooded with cocaine. Everyone was doing it and we behaved like animals. A blind eye was turned as we were getting results. The coke wasn’t even hidden, many of my colleagues blatantly snorted it off their desks or took a “bump” on the trading floor. We worked bloody long, hard and pressured hours but boy did we party too.”
“The coke binges would spill out into the city after trading hours as we would drug and drink until the early hours in London’s hot spots, sleeping only a few hours and repeating all over again the next day.
Trading wasn’t just a job, it was a way of life and it was exhausting. For some, including myself, it became too much and took its toll financially, socially, with family and our mental health. Cocaine nearly ended my life but at the time I felt like I was untouchable”
Danny was one of many London city traders that fell afoul of the cocaine and champagne lifestyle that accompanied this particular career. Sadly, some did not survive as a result of not receiving the correct addiction treatment when it was needed most.
London City Trader Jumps to His Death During Cocaine Psychosis
In September 2007, successful City trader Darren Liddle jumped to his death from the 19th floor of the Hilton hotel in London. The inquest following his death heard that he was driven to alcohol and cocaine abuse by the pressures of the trading floor.
Terry Lovegrove, of Westminster Coroner’s Court London, who interviewed Mr Liddle’s family, told the court:
“The pressures of work on the trading floor led him to abuse drink and drugs.
“It wasn’t long before his parents realised drugs were taking over his life.”
Mr Liddle from South East London was described as a very talented mathematician who gained a first-class degree in mathematics and business at University College in London, before being awarded a bursary to study for a master’s degree at Imperial College.
He was subsequently taken on by leading bank Credit Suisse as an analyst and trader. Remarkably, despite being troubled he achieved the company’s best-ever first year trading figures.
In the weeks leading up to his death, Mr Liddle was discharged from a psychiatric hospital ward for the second time in two months. Mr Liddle was reported to be suffering from persecution paranoia and psychotic episodes linked to excessive cocaine consumption.
London Hospital Admissions for Drug-Related Mental Health See A Rising Trend
During the second decade of the 20th Century, London has suffered a rising trend in drug-related mental health hospital admissions.
Data taken from NHS Digital shows drug-related mental health hospital admissions in London have risen consecutively each year from 2013/14 – where there were 10,679 admissions, to 13,155 admissions in 2016/17.
Statistics further show that the vast majority of drug-related mental health admissions to London’s hospitals are male. In fact, in 2016/17, of the 13,155 total admissions, 9,179 of these were male. This shows that drug-related mental health illness is predominantly a male problem in London and that it continues to grow.
London Has Lowest Recorded Drug Death Rates In UK
Whilst drug-related mental health illness has increased within London as an independent region, drug-related deaths in London are the lowest by region in England and Wales.
Official data for 2017 shows that the North East of England has a substantially higher rate of drug deaths per million than other regions.
Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show 83 per million died from drug-related deaths in North East England – in contrast to London’s 24.6 per million. London recorded the lowest figures of all the regions in the UK.
The further north you travel in the UK the higher the drug death toll becomes. Scotland’s drug deaths hit a record high in 2017, revealing the highest figures in Europe. Statistics recorded by The National Records of Scotland showed there were a staggering 934 deaths in 2017 attributed to drugs; numbers have more than doubled in the last decade. This is the equivalent to 279 deaths per million, far higher than any other EU country.
The Economic Divide of the UK and How It impacts on Addiction Trends
There are significant variations in the number of drug-related deaths across the UK. The reason for this is thought to be due to differences in drug use rates, wider health inconsistencies and economical differences.
Drug use tends to be more prevalent amongst less privileged and poorer communities. London as the capital city is richer in economy and saturated with premier health treatment services. London also tends to be where many alcohol treatment and drug treatment pilots are trialled in the first instance. So, for Londoners with an alcohol or drug problem, there is a wider selection of addiction treatment programmes to choose from.
This particular addiction trend shows us that London offers the best treatment options available in the UK, perhaps has more drug awareness due to a higher number of drug and alcohol services and private treatment centres per square mile, and overall is economically a richer region in comparison to regions further North of England.
London’s Addiction Trends – Drugs Have Increased in Purity
In more recent years London along with the rest of the UK has seen a marked increase in Cocaine-related deaths, Heroin-related deaths and also Fentanyl-related deaths.
The reason for the increase in deaths relating specifically to Cocaine, Heroin and Fentanyl is that these street drugs are stronger and purer than they have been in preceding years.
The number of fentanyl deaths for England and Wales has increased from 58 in 2016 to 75 in 2017 and from 1 to 31 for fentanyl analogues.
Fentanyl has been also been found mixed with heroin, causing many accidental overdoses in users. For some, these drug overdoses were fatal.
Fentanyl-Laced Percocet Pills Seized in London
In November 2018 London police seized a large number of branded black market Percocet pills at a property in Hounslow, West London.
Drug tests revealed that the pills contained the powerfully strong synthetic opioid fentanyl. Subsequently, an official health alert was issued by London’s metropolitan police and Public health England.
There has been a definite rise in counterfeit drug addiction since the beginning of the 20th Century. In London, pop up laboratories were hidden underground as fake pills were mass produced and shipped throughout the rest of the UK.
Cocaine Deaths Hit an All-Time High
Cocaine has been a huge source of concern as figures for cocaine-related deaths have spiralled out of control and are still continuing to rise. Cocaine is now stronger and purer than ever before and it has been identified that it is used predominantly by the middle class.
Cocaine-related deaths reached their highest ever numbers since records began in 2017 official figures revealed. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported 432 deaths from the class A stimulant drug in England and Wales. This is nearly quadruple the number of deaths recorded for Cocaine in 2011
Police warnings were issued regarding the increased purity of cocaine and increased availability due to prices coming down. London’s drug gangs who imported the high-grade Cocaine resorted to complex methods of dealing in order to keep London’s police from stopping them.
Carfentanil Finds Its Way to UK Heroin Addicts
Also, in 2017, the most dangerous version of all opioids Carfentanil was responsible for 27 accidental fatalities during 2017.
This is the first time in history that Carfentanil has been recorded on death certificates.
Carfentanil is the strongest opioid in the world and 500 to 1000 times the efficacy of morphine per weight. Somehow this deadly drug has found its way into our country. Most people who take the drug do not realise they are taking it as it has been cut with heroin to make it stronger. This leads to instant accidental opiate overdose and death.
We can’t be sure that this particular drug trend started in London as the majority of Carfentanil deaths were recorded in the Northeast of England, but it still bears relevance to the growing trend of opioid addiction that is sweeping London and the rest of the UK.
Today London’s Drug Gangs Are Finding New Ways to Sell Drugs – And It’s Shocking
2018 and 2019 have seen a new trend of London’s drug gangs resorting to more convoluted and heinous methods of selling drugs.
From 2014, Cuckooing took a frightening grip of more rural counties in England and Wales and peaked in 2017 and 2018.
London’s drug gangs were taking over vulnerable people’s homes – “cuckooing”, using their property a means of storing and selling drugs. County lines police forces all over England and Wales were forced to work together to try and combat the problem.
Unfortunately, recent news reports in 2019 show that this is still happening. Norfolk police revealed that they have made 640 arrests in the past 18 months for cuckooing related offences and hostile takeovers.
Norfolk police state that 1 in 5 arrests for cuckooing offences were children.
London’s drug gangs are also becoming more violent. As a result, innocent people are being forcibly involved in the selling of drugs. It has been revealed that there are increasing reports of knife crime, hostage situations, rape, blackmail and extortion crimes committed by London drug dealers all over the country.
London’s drug gangs are also responsible for a 274% increase in knife crime in Norfolk. The worrying trend is to capitalize on low crime areas of the country that fall under the radar of the local police.
Dial A Drug Mopeds Deliver Drugs on Wheels to London’s Drug Users
Again, in 2018, London’s addiction trends saw drug gangs resorting to more cunning and professional methods of selling drugs. London’s police unveiled a professional drugs business responsible for masterminding a £5 million crime ring using Airbnb properties to stash large quantities of illegal drugs that were dispatched by a fleet of moped couriers across London.
The crime ring had moped riders on standby to deliver drugs to customers around London, stating that customers could receive their Class A drugs package within 10 minutes of making an order.
It was further revealed that a menu was available offering a selection of drugs including Cocaine, Ecstasy and Speed that could be supplied at any time of the day or night – direct to your door.
The gang in London rented out Airbnb flats for only a few days at a time, regularly moving location around London in order to avoid being caught by police.
The group had moped riders on standby, aiming to make 30 deliveries in London each day. The whole operation was very businesslike. This new addiction trend in London is making drugs far easier to access for drug-addicted Londoners.
Prosecutor Peter Finnigan QC told the Inner London crown court that Met officers seized a quantity of £3 million worth of drugs at a Battersea self-storage centre following a surveillance operation on the group’s movements.
The London drug dealers ran the business in a way similar to say a pizza delivery shop. They even supplied their moped riders with a staff hand manual containing a code of conduct, customer service expectations and staffing goals.
A number of mobile phones were also seized by London police. The phones were being used as dedicated drugs lines to take customers’ orders. Further evidence was presented to court showing £2.5 million of alleged drug profits that had been banked.
The group’s clever operation was stumbled on by accident when police seized a phone with drugs messages on from a moped rider during a routine traffic stop. The culprits that are being held as responsible for the crime are still being trialled.
The latest London addiction trend is to turn drugs selling into a more businesslike format. Drug gangs are becoming more creative, and whilst this particular gangs’ plans have come to an abrupt halt, it is prudent to say that this will not be the last that we hear of this sort of crime being committed in London.
London’s Current Alcohol Dependence Problem
Currently, alcohol is currently a major issue for London. The Department of Health has estimated that 280,000 Londoners are dependent on alcohol, with a further 2.4 million drinking at levels which are considered harmful.
Alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse carry long term serious health implications.
Whilst London doesn’t have the highest rate of drinking (per region) within the UK, it does have very high rates of alcohol-related recorded crimes, including violent crimes and sexual violence.
Londoners are becoming increasingly concerned by alcohol-related crime and nuisance. They no longer feel safe on the streets of London at night.
The government for London state that the economic impacts of alcohol are also significant, with London paying some £2 billion per year to deal with the consequences of alcohol.
Alcohol addiction is something that is becoming a growing problem. Bars, restaurants and clubs can apply for 24-hour licences and many shop stores in London also sell alcohol around the clock. The London drinking culture has evolved since the beginning of the century and drinking hours have been extended. Alcohol is still not being treated with the respect and caution it warrants.
Islington Suffers Huge Budget Slash to Drug and Alcohol Services
Despite London’s alcohol-related hospital admissions soaring, budget cuts to local drug and alcohol support services continue to be made. The largest proportional cut came to the London borough of Islington – 34% of its budget or £2,431,800 was cut last year.
Local authorities project a further average 2% cut in drug and alcohol treatment services. The average budget cut is set to be over £75,000, with 93% of councils reporting that addiction treatment budgets will stand still or fall next year.
We Understand Addiction Far Better Today
During the course of the 20th Century, London’s top addiction physicians and addiction specialists have come to recognise addiction as a brain disorder and understand how to treat it. This has helped somewhat to reduce the punitive attitudes and stigmatism attached to alcohol addiction and drug addiction.
By the same token, behavioural addictions are now also recognised as mental health disorders. Gaming addiction, social media addiction, porn addiction and gambling addiction are very much a 20th Century problem.
Technology has advanced to support both behavioural and drug addictions, consequently, those first affected by addiction have also become younger. Children today are exposed to far more unmonitored ways of escaping reality than just alcohol and drugs.
Children in London are privy to new technology and games first, as London’s major stores launch their introduction into the UK.
Whilst many physicians and medical experts have come on board in treating addiction in any form as an “illness” or a “disease”, the general public is mostly still in the dark as to the true nature of addiction.
Addiction is a condition that can appear to have developed through an individual’s poor choice of lifestyle. This, however, is far from the truth.
Most individuals that suffer from addiction are either a) predisposed genetically, b) have suffered trauma or mental health problems, or c) have been exposed to substances from a young age whilst their brain is still developing and vulnerable to chemical change.
Private Addiction Treatment in London Is More Affordable
At the beginning of the 20th Century, only the very rich were able to access private drug and alcohol rehab. The likes of The Priory were attended by the wealthy and famous seeking help for a drug and alcohol problem. Thankfully this has changed. Today private rehab in London is more affordable and is accessible by people from all walks of life.
Addiction treatment trends in London have also come on leaps and bounds with more evidence-based therapies available that are proven to effectively treat addiction.
London’s top private addiction rehabs and specialists now treat addiction with the seriousness it warrants. Addiction is a life-threatening disease and needs to be treated accordingly.
PCPs drug and alcohol rehab in Clapham London only use evidence-based treatment methods that are tailored to each individual’s addiction treatment requirements. We treat the root causes of addiction and offer a holistic healing approach that ensures all aspects of the person affected by addiction are treated comprehensively in each and every patient.
Our London drug and alcohol clinic also provides medical alcohol and drug detox. We have recognised the need for quality addiction treatment and rehabilitation at a price that doesn’t cost the earth. Our priority is to save lives in the borough of London and reach more drug-addicted individuals and their families through our work.
For more information on our private addiction treatment programmes and drug and alcohol detoxes please call us direct. We are here to help.
Sources and References:
National Records for Scotland
Office for National Statistics
Public Health England