Drug policies should ensure that gaps between need and advice and treatment are overcome
United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/ sustainable-development-goals/), with goal 3.5, strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance use problems, including narcotic drug use and harmful use of alcohol. The indicator to monitor achievement of the goal is coverage of treatment interventions (pharmacological, psychosocial, and rehabilitation and aftercare services) for substance use disorders.
As we pointed out in Chapter 6, across all drugs, there is an unacceptable treatment gap that leads to loss of life and societal well-being. Across Europe, fewer than 1 in 10 people with alcohol use disorders receive any treatment (Rehm et al., 2012). Over four-fifths of heavy drinkers in primary healthcare never received any advice (Rehm et al., 2015). In the USA, only 13.5 per cent of adults with a formal diagnosis of drug use disorder during the previous 12 months have received treatment, and only 24.6 per cent with a lifetime diagnosis of drug use disorder have received treatment (Grant et al., 2015). Further, there are also many lost years between the incidence of substance use disorders and receipt of treatment, often referred to as the ‘decade of harm’. Closing the treatment gap brings health gains and reduces preventable deaths (OECD, 2015b), as well as improving social inclusion, and reducing stigma.