A SHARP decline in the availability of heroin has failed to reduce the numbers of addicts in Wigan, drug experts have warned.
Wigan and Leigh Alcohol and Drugs Recovery Service says it is continuing to treat high numbers of illegal substance abusers in the borough despite a dramatic decrease in the amount of heroin in the UK.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency claimed the drop was due to supply routes being cut off with the street price of the drug reported to have doubled.
And Europe’s biggest drug testing company, Concateno, said the number of addicts testing positively for heroin had halved in the past six months.
It has warned that suppliers were diluting heroin with other drugs as supplies are reduced.
But drug experts working in the Wigan borough today revealed they had not seen any significant fall in the number of users receiving treatment.
Dr Louise Sell, Consultant Addictions Psychiatrist and Service Director for the Alcohol and Drugs Directorate, said: “Although we are aware of the comments that there has been a drop in the purity of street heroin, we have no firm evidence that this is the case or indeed there is any specific reason for this.
“We have not seen any significant reduction in the number of service users who are receiving support for their heroin misuse problems and continue to provide treatment and support to help these people live drug-free lives.”
Wigan’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) has revealed it treated more than 1,350 drug abusers in the space of a year.
This includes 1,228 “problematic drug users” in treatment for heroin or crack cocaine addiction.
If heroin purity returned to normal levels, addicts would face an increased risk of overdose.
There are an estimated 300,000 UK users of heroin, which comes mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The suggestion of an interruption in the supply is backed up by police reports of shortages in several places in the UK.