September2 2020 - Page 11

They said what..? Spotlight on the national media use drugs and fall into the sphere of substance misuse services is a grim indictment of modern psychiatry, because no one goes into substance misuse treatment if they have another option. Gabor Maté’s ideas around trauma and addiction would suggest an even higher percentage of service users are suffering. Put simply, people don’t go into treatment to keep the party going, for free dope. Considering the modern treatment service, it can easily be construed that you have to be desperate to sign up. So it would be great if the drugs that enable clients to function and provide much needed stability were not seen as a vice or pleasure, but rather seen as just medication. I’ll probably be burned at the stake for mentioning it, but demonisation of drugs and the pleasure they can impart is seen far too often in recovery settings. I appreciate the seriousness of recovery, but if your schtick involves demonising drugs and pleasure to maintain one’s own recovery it might be time to find another narrative. Our negative attitude to pleasure can even be seen to limit the effectiveness of what little harm reduction we practise. The work of Magdalena Harris, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine MediaTrading/iStock and a leading researcher, suggests that the most effective forms of harm reduction tend to fall around ways to extend pleasurable drug use rather than the much more common and more ineffective ‘wages of sin are death/do this or die’ approach. A more civilised attitude to pleasure would change things, and our only chance of this is a full and frank discussion around pleasure and our attitude to it. An inability to accept pleasure is the elephant in the room. It leads to stigma, poor drug treatment and poor relationships between services and service users. This, sadly, won’t change until there’s been a debate – and considering the subject, it will be a painful debate. My contribution to this debate is this. Since mankind came down from the trees we’ve wandered around, and when hungry we ate some of the plentiful plants. Some plants nourished us, so we kept eating them. Some plants poisoned us, so we stopped eating those. And some plants – special plants – made us feel good… really good. We definitely kept eating them! You have to accept pleasure is a very human problem, because only mankind would make pleasure a problem. Most animals, wisely, just enjoy it. Nick Goldstein is a service user THE DECISION to scrap Public Health England in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed 65,000 British lives is cynical and wrong… it is not a failing institution and its weaknesses reflect years of Conservative cuts. Guardian editorial, 18 August THIS BUNCH OF NANNYING NO-MARKS enjoy an annual budget of £300m and legions of bosses enjoy six-figure salaries, but ask yourself this: for all that cash, apart from eating an extra apple, how has your life been improved? Nick Ferrari, Express, 23 August THE PRIME MINISTER AND HIS MERRY BAND OF FELLOWS seem to care about alcohol in so far as the effects it has on people’s waistlines – last week they announced plans for calorie labelling on booze… – but there appears to be precious little concern for the effects it has on people’s brains and lives. It could even be argued that the folks in charge actively encourage the drinking of alcohol, not just in their desperation to reopen pubs over and above almost everything else, but also in their trashing of alcohol and drug services. Bryony Gordon, Telegraph, 8 August PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS are perceived to have self-inflicted the psychological and physical pain they experience. We see them as deviant. This lazy and widely held attitude is not discreet, and the shame and stigma do little to promote recovery from addiction. We don’t need to look far to see where our national empathy really lies – the suffering of cats and dogs always triggers a better response than one for those trapped by addiction. Ian Hamilton, Independent, 14 July The decision to scrap Public Health England in the middle of a pandemic that has claimed 65,000 British lives is cynical and wrong… it is not a failing institution and its weaknesses reflect years of Conservative cuts. IN A WAY, I’M GLAD we don’t legalise drugs in this country. Because – and you’ll have to excuse me for making one of history’s tiredest arguments – look what we did with that incredibly dangerous substance alcohol: we had a choice between strict regulation and building a towering culture entirely around it, and chose the latter. Could you imagine just how unbearable drugs culture would be in this country if it was legalised? Second-wedding hen-do mums with ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ etched across a TK Maxx bong; hard lads in pub gardens arcing bottles of poppers in the air every time Harry Kane scores a penalty; entire counties ready to fight each other – the way Devon and Cornwall argue about the order the jam is supposed to go on a scone – over whether a bump of cocaine is better than a line. This is why we can’t legalise drugs in this country. It’s nothing to do with moral panic, and everything to do with cultural decline. Joel Golby, Guardian, 22 July WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM SEPTEMBER 2020 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 11