Leading drug charity DrugScope today welcomed the launch of Drugs: our community, your say, the Home Office consultation paper on the future of the UK drug strategy.
DrugScope chief executive Martin Barnes responded to the launch:
“DrugScope welcomes the consultation and the commitment to an open debate about the ways forward for the next drug strategy. However, discussion about drugs often generates more heat than light with conflicting views and opinions, so it is crucial that policy is grounded in evidence of what works best and not swayed by media or populist opinion.
“There is no silver bullet which will eradicate drug use but it is wrong to claim, as some do, that the current strategy has failed in its entirety. Our member organisations working in drug treatment, education and prevention services are making a real difference to the lives of individuals and families affected by drug use, but we know that much more needs to be done.”
Barnes commented on key areas which DrugScope believe need to be considered in any new drug strategy:
“Moving forward, there needs to be a much greater emphasis on drug misuse as a public health issue, not least tackling drug-related deaths and the worrying increase in blood-borne infections among injecting drug users. The expansion in drug treatment needs to be matched by a greater focus on tackling the underlying factors contributing to drug use, such as poor housing, poverty and unemployment.
“Mental health problems are often a factor leading to drug misuse or relapse yet this important issue is not being adequately addressed. There is often a lack of cooperation between drug treatment and mental health professionals, leaving users to fall through the net between different services.
“The current underinvestment in alcohol treatment needs to be tackled a matter of urgency, but this must not be at the expense of funding for drug services.
Barnes also responded to the inclusion of a cannabis classification as an issue for review over the consultation period.
“We fear that the review of cannabis reclassification may divert attention from other aspects of drugs policy. The issue was considered in depth by the government’s expert advisory body less than two years ago and cannabis use, particularly among young people, has continued to fall.”
Notes to editors:
DrugScope is the UK’s leading centre of expertise on drugs. Our aim is to inform policy and reduce drug-related risk. We provide quality information, promote effective responses to drug taking, undertake research at local, national and international level, advise on policy-making, encourage informed debate and speak for our member bodies working on the ground. For more on our work please see www.drugscope.org.uk
For more information please contact Ruth Goldsmith in the DrugScope Press Office on 020 7940 7517 (07736 895563 out of hours) or at email@example.com