“Free” Heroin on the NHS
The links between illegal drug use and crime, particularly acquisitive, have long been recognised as problematic. Recent statistics published in The Independent suggest that as few as ten percent of addicts commit 75 percent of all acquisitive crime. In spite of these consistently dispiriting figures, the familiar approach is one of punishment, with some attempt at rehabilitation. Moreover, all of these programmes have at their foundations an aim to ensure their clients maintain complete desistance from drug use.
However, recent trials—first at the Maudsley Hospital in London, but later extended to Darlington and Brighton—suggest that the way to break the link between drugs and crime should be tackled in an entirely different way. The creation of so-called NHS “shooting galleries”, where long-term addicts can get a regular, monitored fix of heroin, would appear to be having success, not only in cutting crime, but also in reducing drug use. This week the UK National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse is expected to call for a network of these clinics to be created across the country.
However, illegal drug (ab)use is often seen very emotively, and while this initiative may make good economic and indeed, medical sense, there will be many critics. First, the programme is not cheap (although cheaper than prison), second, the already over stretched budgets of the NHS, and finally, the moral dimension, as to whether those criminalised should be given free drugs, regardless of benefit to society. No doubt this debate will continue for some considerable time.
The moral dimension of this issue is particularly absurd–given that morals are not unchanging and it is possible (seemingly) to regard addiction as a medical condition rather than an immoral behavior. This has, arguably, happened to some extent with the medicalization of methods to quit smoking with medicated gum or skin patches.
What an interesting post. The presence of this experiment is interesting in itself.
addiction to substances that alter brain chemistry therefore changing the way one chooses to feel (or not to feel) is prevalent in all aspects of modern society, from alcohol to nicotine, caffeine, red bull, sugar to name but a few. because these are legal they can be considered socially acceptable modern lifestyle accompaniments. ok now criminalise alcohol is your view one of, it is still socially acceptable and the governments policy is now socially unacceptable?
now throw in the many thousands of people addicted to vallium , temazepam and other benzodiazepines because their view is one of ” I cant cope without my medication”
(note valium is such a mind altering drug that it is the only group of medicines where if you were spiked without your knowledge and then committed a crime, you can run a legitimate defence of automatism (not in control of your behaviour to such an extent as to potentially get away with murder) in a nutshell they should legalise all criminal aspects of drug dependence….. but here is a thought, consider all the people employed by hm courts probation police lawyers judges all aspects of the whole prison system plus more that I cannot think of, how many employees does that account for? now consider some 85 percent of the revolving prisoners within the system suddenly not commiting crime because we have legalised all problems related to drug dependence and acquisition. how many unemployed????? they will never decriminalise heroin for this fact alone