16 June 2016

Health Charities Call for Drug Rehab for Addicts Instead of Criminalisation

Those in the drug rehab business know the importance of treatment when it comes to those who are affected by drug addiction. Addiction is a recognised illness and one that is affecting many people all over the world. Here in the UK, organisations such as UKAT work hard to ensure that as many individuals as possible can access the treatments they need to get better. We know that early intervention is the best way to overcome addiction, and we believe that with the right help and support, anyone can beat their demons.

The War on Drugs

The law on drugs in the UK is pretty straightforward; if you are caught in possession of illegal drugs, action will be taken regardless of whether the drugs were for personal use. Many believe that prosecuting drug users is the best way to reduce use. However, there are a number of people who completely disagree and who believe that the current war on drugs here in the United Kingdom is simply not working. They think that the UK government should be taking a leaf out of Portugal’s book and treating addiction as a health issue and not a criminal one.

In fact, two major health organisations have come out to say that all illegal drugs should be decriminalised because the ‘war on drugs has failed’.

Compulsory Drugs Lessons

Health experts at the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) believe that decriminalising drugs is the best way to tackle the drugs problem in this country. They also say that children should be given compulsory drugs lessons from the age of five.

These experts have said that the current UK drugs policies have done nothing to improve public health and believe that those found in possession of drugs should be sent to drug rehab or a drugs awareness course.

They believe that it should be a requirement for all children to learn about the dangers of drugs in both primary and middle school. This should form a part of PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) education. According to a report published by the organisations, “Drugs education must be interactive and take an approach that focuses more broadly on developing resilience, self-efficacy, impulse control and life skills in relation to risk-taking behaviour. Proper PSHE education is crucial in helping young people develop the necessary values and skills to avoid drug harm.”

Nevertheless, not everyone agrees. Research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, Kathy Gyngell, said, “This is irresponsible and ill-thought through. Instead of informed consent, children should be told that taking drugs is breaking the law and there is a good reason for that: it is dangerous and risky behaviour.”

At the moment, children as young as seven are taught about how recreational drugs affect health and behaviour. At the age of ten and eleven, children are taught how drugs, lifestyle, exercise and diet can have an effect on the body.

New Report

The new report, titled Taking a New Line on Drugs, includes the recommendations for changes to current drugs policies. A poll was also conducted in which 2,000 adults were asked about how drug users should be treated. Fifty-six per cent believe that they should not be charged and instead should be sent to drug rehab.

Evidence has shown that those who are criminalised for possession of drugs face even more exposure while in prison. Many are introduced to harder drugs, and the impact on the family when one member is sent to prison can be devastating. The report says that by criminalising drug users, the long-term implications can be job losses, family breakdowns and failure to seek necessary medical help.

Experts still believe that those who manufacture and sell drugs should be punished by law; and punished severely.

Shift in Focus

The chief executive of the RSPH, Shirley Cramer, said, “In terms of the public’s health, the ‘war on drugs’ has failed. The time has come for a new approach, where we recognise that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue and that those who misuse drugs are in need of treatment and support – not criminals in need of punishment.”

This comes despite the fact that drug use has actually fallen over the past ten years. Nonetheless, there has been a rise in the number of drugs-related injuries as well as drug-related deaths.

FPH president, Professor John Middleton, agreed, and said, “Possession and use should be decriminalised and health approaches prioritised.”

Supporting Addiction Treatment

A spokesperson for the Home Office stated that the Government was committed to tackling the issue of drugs by continuing to prevent drug use while also supporting those with addiction issues ‘through treatment and recovery’. He added that the Government had the responsibility of continuing to ‘stop the supply and tackle the organised crime behind the drugs trade’.

Source: Daily Mail 

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