WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT ...
THE PURPOSE OF DRUG TREATMENT
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The genesis of this article was Priti Vacant ’ s ( Patel ’ s ) recent bung of £ 148m to cut drug crime and introduce project ADDER ( DDN , February , page 4 ). ADDER is yet another treatment service acronym standing for ‘ addiction , diversion , disruption , enforcement and recovery ’, although if history is anything to go by shouldn ’ t it really translate to just another dumb drug exercise ? It doesn ’ t really matter what it stands for , because the odds are it will end up in the government policy wastebasket with all the other failed new agendas .
ADDER doesn ’ t inspire confidence . Little of the money is ‘ new money ’ and on a close reading it can only really be described as grossly depressing . In fact its only saving grace is we ’ ve heard it all before , which makes the depression seem like an old acquaintance – like meeting a cop who ’ s arrested in you in the past .
Although the actual document is meaningless pap there were several interesting comments from the rogue ’ s gallery of ministers who were rounded up for its release . Our esteemed minister for health and social care , Matt Hancock , got
Who exactly is drug treatment designed to benefit , asks Nick Goldstein
the ball rolling with ‘ addiction and crime are inextricably linked ’ and followed up by pointing out that Priti ’ s bung was ‘ the largest increase in drug treatment funding in 15 years ’. While being true , it said more about the savage cuts of the last 15 years than anything else .
The esteemed minister was rapidly followed by Priti herself , who reminded everyone that she was determined to cut crime . She was especially keen to announce her personal war with county lines gangs , who are rapidly becoming the folk demon du jour . Priti suggested she was ‘ restoring confidence in the criminal justice system ’ so that people could live their lives knowing their family , community and country is safe – from drug users . Thankfully she remembered not to say the last part out loud !
Next up at the podium was the headlining act , the grand fromage himself , the prime minister . Boris , as ever , blustered on about making the streets safe and tackling criminal gangs by ‘ cutting the heads off snakes ’ amongst many other favourite platitudes from drug policy and / or treatment speeches over the years . Boris finished up with ‘ I am determined to fight crime ’. The whole event , the policy release and speeches engendered nothing more than mild depression , just like the last policy release , the one before that and all the others – just more of the same thoughtlessness that has been failing for years . It ’ s just more criminal justice solutions with some illdefined recovery thrown in to make the policy palatable . I swear , if politicians were banned from mentioning crime in a discussion on drug use they ’ d be forced into silence .
Depressing though all of this may be , it is of value because it perfectly illustrates a fundamental flaw in drug treatment and policy that really does need commenting on , because it ’ s the root cause in much misunderstanding . It ’ s this – drug treatment is not for drug users , rather it is an attempt to protect society from drug users . I appreciate some readers might be wincing or exhibiting anger at this point , but hear me out .
Let ’ s look back over the last few decades to the ’ 80s when I first
22 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • MAY 2021 WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM