It is an issue that affects nearly 1,300 people and costs Brighton and Hove more than £27 million.

But why has Brighton and Hove had the ‘drugs death capital of the country’ tag and what can be done to stop young people from turning to them?

This was the focus of the new Brighton and Hove Drugs Commission.

Crime writer Peter James was chairman of the panel, which also included Rick Cook, of Mind in Brighton and Hove, and Harry Shapiro of charity Drugscope.

Young people were invited to the American Express Community Stadium at Falmer to ask questions Drugs Commission spokesman Mike Trace, a former national “drugs tsar, said: “Brighton and Hove has had problems with drug use for decades and in the past has been dubbed the drugs death capital of the UK, but the city is pioneering new services that are starting to show promising results.

“Current treatment services in the city run by Brighton and Hove City Council, the NHS and other partners have taken a cultural shift through a care pathway that’s helping more people come off drugs.

“But this commission looked at ways to address the remaining challenges to ensure the city is working in the most effective way.”

Brighton and Hove City Council said a total of 520 habitual offenders have been referred through Operation Reduction for treatment in seven years.

About 21,000 crimes have been committed and dealing with them has cost more than £27 million.

In November the Commission aims to submit a draft report to look at ways to improve the situation.

A council spokesman said: “For every £1 spent on drug treatment, £3 is saved through a reduction in crime.

“We need to understand people’s needs and motivations if we are to understand substance misuse and deliver better and more appropriate services. 

"Our treatment service is not failing. In fact an overhaul of substance misuse services in Brighton and Hove has seen the city record impressive early results in its drive to reduce drug-related deaths and improve treatment outcomes.

“The number of people coming off drugs through the city’s treatment services rose from 127 during 2010 compared to 170 last year.

“In addition, the city has a good record in taking measures to tackle drug-related deaths, which appear to have fallen in recent years.”

Earlier this year comedian and film star Russell Brand filmed part of a TV documentary in Brighton which looked at how the city was dealing with drug addicts.