By Max Clarke
New Labour’s target obsessed approach to heroin addiction has been blasted by centre-right think-tank, Centre for Policy Studies, in a new report.
Published this morning, the report- entitled Breaking the habit: Why the state should stop dealing drugs and start doing rehab- exposes the economic and social costs of a system that fundamentally ignores the core problem: addiction.
An over willingness to prescribe methadone- a government endorsed opiate intended to relieve the pangs of addiction without further fuelling dependency- has seen costs spiral, sapping £730 million a year from the treasury.
Furthermore, the report argues, methadone does not break the cycle of addiction and is part of an ill-conceived system of drug prescription and benefits dependency that costs the UK taxpayer upwards of £3.2 billion a year.
The Coalition government recognises that they have inherited a flawed system, though alarmingly the report predicts the proposed solution will also fail. Their ‘Drugs Recovery Payment by Results (PbR)’ again focuses on outcomes and not on the problem, which is simply one of addiction.
Opiate addiction cannot be treated with substitute drugs, but with 6 months of abstinence.If doctors, pharmacists and drug workers all work together and are rewarded for their efforts, not only would it be the most effective cure for the scourge of addiction, but it would be a testament to David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ vision.