HAVE YOUR SAY Write to the editor and get it off your chest claire @ cjwellings . com
Sipa US / Alamy
‘ While I agree with decriminalisation , let ’ s be honest – even in the unlikely event it were to happen , it ’ s not going to make much difference to drug deaths is it ? Alcohol and tobacco are legal , and last time I checked they were doing quite well at killing people ...’
TO BOLDLY GO …
So another day , another drug report calling for ‘ bold policies ’, this time from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh , as they ponder how to tackle Scotland ’ s world-beating drug death tally ( DDN , April , p4 ). While I agree with decriminalisation , let ’ s be honest – even in the unlikely event it were to happen , it ’ s not going to make much difference to drug deaths is it ? Alcohol and tobacco are legal , and last time I checked they were doing quite well at killing people , thank you very much . Ditto consumption rooms – in the equally unlikely scenario that they were legalised I doubt it would amount to much more than a drop in the ocean . They might prevent some overdoses but lots of people who use drugs wouldn ’ t go anywhere near them , as has been pointed out in the pages of DDN in the past ( DDN , November 2018 , p10 ).
The reasons behind Scotland ’ s drug deaths are , as anyone with any sense knows , poverty and despair – ingrained problems that aren ’ t going to be fixed by tinkering with drug policy , however well intentioned . It may be that the Scottish Government are belatedly recognising the drug death crisis and acknowledging that they took their ‘ eye off the ball ’ – it ’ s debatable whether it was ever on it – but I really don ’ t see what a ‘ dedicated ’ minister is realistically going to achieve on this . Good luck to them , obviously , but I ’ m not holding my breath .
So we await the next set of figures , which everyone seems to think will be the worst yet , and so on and so on . And as was also pointed out in your magazine , for the Scottish Government to still be blaming Westminster for the problem despite devolution happening in the last century is a bit rich to say the least ( DDN , November 2020 , p6 ).
You can argue that decriminalisation would reduce stigma and encourage more people into treatment , but wasn ’ t one of the problems that the treatment sector wasn ’ t getting
the funding it needed anyway ? If people feel hopelessness and despair they ’ re going to turn to substances to numb the pain – substances that may well end up killing them – and it doesn ’ t really matter whether they ’ re illegal , decriminalised or legal . The end result is always the same . Peter Gordon , by email
IN MY OWN WORDS
I completely agree with the editor ’ s opinion quoted in Setting The Tone ( DDN , April , p13 ). There is definitely a huge case for giving people in addiction agency over how they see and term themselves . As you say , who are we to redefine them .
And of course , arguably the biggest group of people who stay well , in 12-step programmes , do so by acknowledging they are alcoholics and addicts , even when they have put down their drug of choice . As it says in the AA ‘ Big Book ’, alcohol is only a
symptom ( and dealing with the ‘ isms ’ goes on , a day at a time ). Mark Reid , by email
HAVE YOU BEEN AFFECTED BY GAMBLING ?
I am part of the newly formed expert link panel and we are aiming to create a nationwide network for those affected by gambling harms .
We have co-produced a survey https :// t . co / f7hFEVKWVI ? amp = 1 and are seeking as many responses as possible from those affected by gambling harms to help shape and inform our work going forward – and as part of this process I am desperately keen to reach out to those who will have co-existing issues with alcohol and other drugs .
All responses are hugely welcome – please follow the link to complete our short ( one minute ) survey by Monday 10 May . Owen Baily , by email
UPDATE : Carol Black report
AS PART OF AN ONGOING SERIES OF ONLINE EVENTS organised by the College of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations ( CLERO ) Dame Carol Black shared a preview of what to expect in the much-anticipated part two of her independent review of drugs .
The second part of the review is now with the prime minister ’ s office awaiting approval and Black hopes it will be published in late May following the local elections . While she was unable to give details of the contents , she mentioned 32 proposals relating to creating system change .
Part one of the review , released in February last year ( DDN , March 2020 , p4 ), outlined key issues facing the sector – a ‘ perfect storm ’ of increased supply , austerity driven cuts to support services , rising crime , increased homelessness and the record high levels of drug-related deaths . Part two of the report will outline the next steps and recommendations – see next month ’ s issue .
DDN welcomes all your comments . Please email the editor , claire @ cjwellings . com , join any of the conversations on our Facebook page , or send letters to DDN , CJ Wellings Ltd , Romney House , School Road , Ashford , Kent TN27 0LT . Longer comments and letters may be edited for space or clarity .
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