TORBAY Council chairman Julien Parrott has called for tougher ways to tackle the resort's drug addicts problem.
He claims around 500 problem addicts are costing taxpayers about £2million in treatment and support.
He has criticised the current 'cycle of dependency' of users and those who care for them, and proposed a hard hitting regime of abstinence to break that cycle which, he said, would do more for addicts.
Mr Parrott said the 500 in Torbay are among around 320,000 registered drug users in this country who at 2011 prices each cost £360,000 pounds per year. The UK government spent £3.6 billion pounds on rehabilitation programmes and benefits for people dependent on drugs.
The money is paid for benefits, drug substitutes, salaries, staff and offices of organisations across the country who deal with this.
It is a bill Britain cannot afford, said Mr Parrott as he highlighted the figures at the launch of the new Community and Voluntary Action drop-in facility in Torquay for people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.
This is a new peer-to-peer facility, run by those who have themselves experienced the difficulties and hardships of addiction and who are determined to make a difference not only in their own lives, but to help others who suffer from the same addictions.
Mr Parrott said he knew some people might not be happy with his words, but intended only encouragement for those volunteers and those suffering from addiction, and especially those who have tried many, many times to get clean but have never quite achieved it.
"This money is spent on, frankly, a cycle of dependency which means that drug users are never going to be helped to get truly free because too many people's salaries, jobs and mortgages depend on those people remaining victims for ever.
"All the state agencies claim that drug use and dependency is falling. I'm not so sure."
He said currently there are around 520 so-called 'problem' drug users in the Bay.
"So, by simple process of multiplication, these are costing us nearly £2million pounds each year in treatment and support alone. We cannot afford to carry on like this."
He described the currently coalition government idea of 'payment by results' as 'well intentioned, but frankly doomed to failure".
"It's going to be run by exactly the same people who have presided over heaven knows how many years of a complete lack of success at achieving anything in this field," he said.
The costs he quoted didn't include the cost to the NHS (£488m a year), the cost of drug related crime (£14 billion per year), the cost of the families and communities affected by drugs.
He added: "We all know that prison doesn't work, either. Of almost 90,000 people currently in prison in the UK, around 10,000 are in there for drugs offences, and the percentage of sentences relating to drugs is rapidly increasing. So we can instantly exclude prison as any sort of 'cure'."
He said there were signs of a solution in the establishment of small, modern rehabilitation units based on abstinence.
"No messing about with substitutes, no sitting about just talking about it with a counsellor, no holding hands nonsense and talking about one step at a time, but real, honest abstinence."
He said: "The real kick in the teeth is that these people are not able to get funding via the coalition's scheme. Madness or what?"
He said the CVA facility can do much good. "It is a major step forward to helping Bay people who face this problem, and it has my wholehearted support. I won't pretend you have it easy, especially not being based in premises, where deals are done regularly, practically outside the front door. But you have taken a huge step in helping yourselves, one that I truly admire."
Mr Parrott said: "If you are genuinely determined to help yourselves, to improve both your own lives and those of your families, your friends and yours – and my – community, then I am prepared to support you. If you really do want to help yourselves, then I want to help you."