This briefing summarises NICE's recommendations for local authorities and partner organisations on tackling drug use. This includes preventing drug use, minimising the harm caused by drugs and helping people to stop taking them. It is particularly relevant to health and wellbeing boards, police and crime commissioners and community safety partnerships.

This briefing only covers NICE guidance and does not refer to the range of other guidance that is available to local authorities on tackling drug use, some of which is listed in other useful resources and advice.

In the future, NICE may produce more specific guidelines and local government briefings relating to use of cannabis, the new psychoactive drugs and image and performance enhancing drugs.

NICE has produced a separate local government briefing on alcohol misuse prevention and treatment.

Key messages

The government's Drug strategy 2010 reported that drug use costs the UK economy £15.4 billion a year.

From April 2013, the commissioning of substance misuse treatment services (for drugs and alcohol misuse) was transferred to local authorities, supported by health and wellbeing boards (Health and Social Care Act 2012).

The Home Office's Drug strategy annual review: 2012 to 2013 highlights the key role local authorities play in helping to reduce both the supply of, and demand for, illicit drugs. This includes helping people to recover from drug addiction by providing education, housing, public health, social care and regulatory services.

From 2010 to 2011, according to a Health and Social Care Information Centre's Statistics on drug misuse: England 2013, there were nearly 300,000 opiate and/or crack users in England.

Problem drug use does not happen in a vacuum and there are frequently links to a range of other factors such as mental health, alcohol misuse and homelessness.

Many acquisitive crimes (including theft, burglary and robbery) are committed by people whose drug use has become an addiction. Their offending often escalates to keep up with the rising cost of their drug use. Some also support their drug use with low-level dealing or prostitution.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is an independent organisation providing guidance and advice to improve health and social care.

For further information on how to use this briefing and how it was developed, see 'About this briefing'.