The Drug Strategy is focused on illegal drugs and the most dangerous drugs, including class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine. The reason for this is that illegal drugs cause significant and wide ranging problems to individuals, families and communities, including drug-related crime and health harms. class A drug use generates an estimated £15.4 billion in crime and health costs each year and between a third and a half of acquisitive crime is estimated to be drug related. Due to this, the new strategy focuses on achieving a long-term and sustainable reduction in the harms associated with illegal drugs.
The mechanisms by which individuals may develop dependency and, therefore, the means by which such dependency may be tackled, differ in the cases of illegal drugs and legally prescribed drugs. For example, interventions to limit the supply of illegal drugs would be inappropriate to deal with prescription drugs. Similarly, the harms caused by prescription drugs differ from those generated by illegal drug use. The latter give rise to predominantly crime and social harms, whereas prescription drugs give rise to health harms and, indeed, health harms requiring interventions other than those employed in the treatment of dependency on illegal drugs such as crack cocaine and heroin. For these reasons, it would be inappropriate for prescribed tranquillisers to be subject to the measures set out in the strategy to tackle the harms caused by illegal drug use.