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UK is 'addictions capital' of Europe

More people are addicted to drugs and alcohol in the UK than the rest of Europe, a think tank has warned. 

In a report released by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the UK has been described as Europe's 'addictions capital'. 

No Quick Fix revealed that drink and drug abuse costs the UK £36 billion each year. 

The report also warned that the UK has become a centre for selling potentially dangerous 'legal highs'. 

CSJ claims there are now more than 130 UK-registered websites selling the products cheaply by mail order. 

Last year 52 people in England and Wales died after taking legal highs, up from 28 the previous year, the report showed. 

Noreen Oliver, review chair said: "Despite some slow progress in this last three years, much more needs to be done to tackle the root causes of addiction so that people have a better chance of breaking free.

"Alcohol is taking an increasing toll across all services in the UK and new emerging drugs are causing more harm - all the while funding to rehabilitation centres is being dramatically cut and methadone prescribing is being protected."

Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne said the government took the threat of legal highs seriously, describing them as "highs which should not be assumed to be either safe or legal".

He told the BBC: "Our Forensic Early Warning System enables us to closely monitor their availability, so we can target activity to reduce demand and supply.

"We are banning whole groups of substances rather than individual drugs and have introduced temporary drug orders which allow us to place harmful substances under control - protecting the public while giving time to our independent experts to prepare more detailed advice."