08 December 2016

New Plans to Minimise Drug-Related Deaths in the UK

Drug misuse is increasingly common around the UK, and it is a huge cause for concern; many steps have been implemented to try to minimise drug-related deaths and the risk of addiction. However, a lot of addiction treatment requires the addict to be admitted to a drug rehabilitation clinic or treatment centre, but unfortunately, this is something many are keen to avoid. This can be for many reasons; they might be afraid of what others will think due to the stigma that surrounds addiction; they may not want to disappoint their loved ones, or it could even be that they are frightened of what it may entail. Many individuals will continue to abuse drugs because of these reasons, and there has been a host of suggestions on how to tackle this. One recent plan that has got the go ahead in Preston is free drug testing booths in nightclubs so that drug users can check their substances to ensure they have not been tampered with; in theory, this should help minimise drug-related deaths.

Ensuring Substances Are Not Adulterated or Highly Potent

Nightclubs in Preston are set to offer free drug testing for those who have Class A substances such as MDMA and cocaine; this tactic is designed to allow these drug users to check if their substances are pure and not ‘adulterated or highly potent’. The clubs will have walk-in booths that will be operated by a drug charity; their main aim is to minimise drug-related deaths by making sure the drugs these people are choosing to take are free of any extra harmful additives.

“Most Supportive” of the Idea

The scheme will operate in the city centre of Preston on both Friday and Saturday nights, starting in 2017; Lancashire police are saying that they will back the plans. Critics have passed judgement that this scheme could ‘normalise’ drug taking and put it in the heads of youngsters that because they are allowed to have them tested, it would be okay to take the substances; however, no drugs are ever safe to consume.

To ensure that this is fully legal, the process will involve volunteers testing substances in a caravan; nevertheless, they will not directly handle any drugs, and the substances that have been tested will be immediately destroyed afterwards. Anyone who goes into the booths will not be required to give any of their personal details and will not be prosecuted for possessing these substances. Local authorities have agreed not to target anyone who uses the booth and are said to be ‘most supportive’ of the idea.

Encouraging Drug Use

Some individuals have argued that by accepting this move, police are actually encouraging drug use and believe that the move is breaking the law. Founder of the Centre for Substance Use Research at Glasgow University Professor Neil McKeganey is one man who believes this. He said, “I am staggered this is being contemplated. The police are advocating a view which one would not unfairly describe as facilitating drug use. By implication, the green light has been given by the authorities to consumption. It’s hard to see how this isn’t an absolute breach of our current drugs laws.”

Some music festivals ran a similar scheme in 2015, and it was considered to be a massive success as around one in five of every three hundred people who used the testing service decided against consuming the drug after they were tested. Professor of criminology at Durham University and co-director of the charity which is organising the service explained, “It’s a very new service and some people might see it as quite radical, but it’s focusing on harm reduction.”

The National Police Chief’s Council has said that although the service could prove to be useful, it has not yet been ‘fully endorsed for national implementation’.

Pragmatic Response

Through the use of special laser equipment, the drug’s content can be discovered in minutes. It has been described as a ‘pragmatic’ response to the current drug issues in clubs and is one that does not encourage or accept the use of these harmful and illegal substances.

Drug-related deaths are at their highest at the moment and are continuing to increase. In 2014, deaths caused by drug misuse rose to 2,250 people per year; this is nearly three times as many as when records started in 1993. The numbers have continued to increase from this point, and there has been a gradual upward peak every year since a drop in 2012. Many of these drug-related deaths are due to accidental poisoning, which is why the plan has been put into place. If people are not going to stop abusing drugs, they should at least be able to know if these substances have anything extra added to them.

Some believe that this approach is a bad one that will only encourage drug abuse. However, others are confident that this will minimise drug-related deaths; maybe if an individual discovers that his or her drugs have been tampered with, then this could push them towards getting the addiction treatment he or she needs to fully overcome the drug problem.

Support When Overcoming Addiction

If you require any support with overcoming a drug addiction, then contact us here at UKAT. We will ensure that you are able to go through recovery in a comfortable and safe environment while feeling positive and optimistic. Should you have any queries on any of our clinics, the addiction treatments we provide or even our policies, then do not hesitate to give us a call today and we would be more than happy to assist you.

Source: Nightclubs to offer free drug-testing booths to check purity of cocaine and MDMA (The Independent)

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