18 April 2007

Government's Drugs Policy Fails

As the government's ten-year drugs strategy draws to an end, the independent UK Drug Policy Commission reports that education schemes have had little impact and any benefits from treatment of addicts have been, at best, limited because so many drug users had relapsed or gone untreated.

Just last month the Royal Society of Arts claimed that UK drug law had been "driven by moral panic" and was "not fit for purpose."  Coming at a time when heroin from Afghanistan is increasingly available at ever lower prices, a radical rethink is clearly necessary.  Given that no other country in Europe faces the same level of problem as we do in this area (our addiction rates are double those found in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden), surely we can learn from and adopt the best practice of others?  After all, we are clearly not alone in the struggle against drugs and you would have thought that living on an island would have certain advantages as regards the supply side of the problem, if we had proper border controls.

Does anyone have knowledge or experience of what works or helps elsewhere that you could share with us?


James said...

I agree with Martin Samuel in yesterday's Times. We do not have a drug problem: "We have a poverty problem; an education problem; an intelligence problem; a homelessness problem; a refugee community problem; an opportunity problem. We have a lousy life problem. This is then exacerbated by drug use. Drugs as an escape; drugs as an alternative." Drugs are a symptom, not the problem itself. Treating the symptom never helped anyone to get well.

Michael MacD said...

Most under-18s with a drugs problem use alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, or ecstasy, NOT heroin - more than 90% drink alcohol, around 50% have used cannabis, 10% ecstasy and 7% cocaine, but less than 1% have tried heroin or other opiates. So the Government's emphasis on treating heroin users completely misses the mark. We need to develop an approach that tackles all substances, not just the one. I also believe the introduction of an index of harms would help.