Monday, 21 July 2008

Benefit clampdown on heroin and crack users

I (Kevin) read with interest, yesterday's Daily Dose that highlighted the recent announcement of a benefits clampdown on heroin and crack addicts. It seems that the numbers of addicts in this country who are receiving benefits, could be as high as 300,000 people. 

While I like the idea of more people being offered treatment, I think being forced into said treatment is a totally different ball-game. In fact it could even cost the tax payer more than just keeping people in benefits. In my experience, when people are forced into doing something they either don't want to or are not ready for, than usually it tends to fail and what happens then?
But I think I need to backtrack a little. Firstly, I'd like to know what kind of treatment is going to be on offer? At the moment treatment just seems to consist of a substitute prescription - is that what this is? A scheme to get more people on methadone against their will? To subdue them, keep them quiet and then forget about them!
If people are going to be offered a complete range of treatment options, and ongoing aftercare for as long as they need it, then great bring it on. But call me cynical if you like, when I say this just isn't going to happen. I fear this is just another second rate response geared to raking in more votes. Labour knows that the next general election is lost, and is once again announcing measures it is not going to be able to follow up on. Empty promises once again!
I hope this isn't the case and that it is going to be worthwhile venture - but my gut tells me differently! I'd like to know what the Daily Dose readers think of this announcement - please email me or leave your comments on the blog for everybody to see.

3 comments:

tim1leg said...

This is a great idea an innovative and ground breaking approach, its great we give people who are ill and suffering from addiction a criminal record for fraud this is brilliant, it will really help them get a job, yes most employers want to see that much sought after criminal record on their prospective candidates CV.

This is the only effective way to prevent them junkie moral degenerate type people becoming life long or long term claimants of that dole money benifit thing, its the best way to force them to turn their lives around . Yes yes yes nobel prize to the halfwit please who thought of this? Who are these F***ing people???? God give me strength.

Peter O'Loughlin said...

This is a very sensitive area. The idea of being coerced into substitute prescribing is, in my opinion, abhorent More so when one looks at the death statistics as published on ECMDDA for methadone, which attributes this in no small measure to poly drug misuse.

On the othe hand when one looks at Singapore where first and second time offenders have no option other than to go into abstinence focused recovery treatment, and remain there for as long the individual's team of case workers judges he is ready to go back into society, and then where he is closely supervised by a dedicated case worker, the statistics indicate that the of the number appearing on charges of drug offences just 23%are 're-offenders'

Does it work, judge for yourself. Singapore has a population of some 4 million. A perusal of their web site on drugs and crime as compared with say Manchester, with a population of just over half a million is an eye opener in terms of police recorded stats on drug offences and crime.

On the down side persistent offenders are dealt with under a very harsh prison routine, and those convicted of drug dealing, as opposed to drug use. rarely get a second chance to re-offend.

The outcome is that for a muti national, multi racial society, which right up to 1970s had one of the worst drug problems in the world, the turn around defies belief.

Ian MacDonald said...

I heartily agree with your sentiments Kevin.
When is this or any government going to listen to those at the 'coal-face', who actually work with the users and know that to initiate a successful recovery the user has to want to do it for themself and not because they are forced or blackmailed into it.
For that reason alone coercion into treatment seldom, if ever, produces lasting results.
It's a cruel and dangerous policy, and unless there's something radically different in the detail of what they're proposing (and I'm not holding my breath on that front!) it's just another 'vote catching' ill-founded initiative that won't work. By all means offer more people treatment and speed up the access process, but let's not forget either that one solution doesn't fit all, and offer those who are ready for it the type of treatment that fits their own particular psyche and needs (with proper structured aftercare) rather than waste money on half-baked 'force them all to get better' schemes.