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Desperate poverty a key factor as 3,500 fighting addictions turn to charity for help in just one year
A Keighley charity that helps people kick drugs and alcohol has seen its workload rocket by 75 per cent.
And poverty in the town has been cited as a major factor behind the upsurge.
Increasing numbers of those seeking assistance are users of more than one substance, the charity revealed.
Mike Cadger, chief executive of Project 6, said there was a distinct link between drug and booze problems and poverty.
Last month the Keighley News reported the town was ranked among the most deprived areas of the county, with many desperate people struggling to survive on just a few pounds a week.
“There’s a clear association between deprivation and rates of substance abuse,” said Mr Cadger.
“You are proportionately more likely to see use of illicit substances and heavy drinking in areas of greater deprivation.”
Around five years ago the award-winning charity, based in Temple Street, was dealing with 2,000 people annually.
In the last year that figure soared to about 3,500.
The project, half of whose funding comes from Public Health England, caters for people aged 16 upwards and is dealing with growing numbers at the younger end.
But the biggest group it handles is in the mid-40s and 50s age range.
And the tendency now is for those seeking help to be combination substance users. “Ten years ago someone may have just used heroin but the trend of the last three to five years is for people to use other things as well,” said Mr Cadger. “And alcoholism has certainly increased.
“There are much greater pressures on people nowadays. Folk lose their jobs, they get into debt and things spiral. They then come to us for help.”
He said while the numbers seeking assistance had surged, recovery rates had also risen.
“The earlier people come for treatment, the more likely they are to recover,” he stressed.
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said Project 6 had an excellent reputation, which was well deserved.
He added: “It is obviously distressing that the number of individuals it has assisted over the past five years has risen significantly, and the reasons for this need to be properly explored. It is certainly the case that there are often strong parallels between substance abuse and poverty, but many other common factors do lead people down this troubled path."
Mr Cadger welcomes a threefold-plus increase in arrests by Keighley police of suspected dealers in Class A drugs.
The Keighley News last week revealed that between April and July this year, 41 people were held for the supply of the top-category drug – which includes heroin and cocaine – compared to just 12 in the same period last year.
“We welcome enforcement action that the police are involved in, particularly targeting dealers,” said Mr Cadger.
“The fact the police have picked up more people reflects the nature of their activity and shows that the drugs issue is something that has not gone away.”
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