Two responses to heroin prescription in England

First, The Sunday Times ran an Op-Ed proposing that the real solution to the drug problem is to legalize drugs. He makes a strong case that Britain’s war on drugs is failing but it’s hard not to believe that he’s hyping the danger posed by addicts under current drug policy (stabbings and murders). He also threw in this point about Britain trying to do treatment on the cheap:

Roberts pointed out that the much vaunted treatment by methadone substitution has not worked, with a cure rate of barely 3%. Since local authorities must pay for treatment from their discretionary budgets, they are going for the cheaper methadone substitution option, as result of which more costly residential places in heroin treatment centres lie empty. Yet to the nation the latter programme, costing £12,000 a place but with a success rate of more than a third, is far better value for money.

One of the problems with many of these arguments is the failure to acknowledge the problems associated with major changes in drug policy. There appear to be serious problems and shortcomings in every drug policy, the real question is which problems societies are willing to live with.

Next, The Scotsman runs an Op-Ed arguing that while heroin prescription may be financially seductive, it amounts to giving up on addicts. She goes further, suggesting that “the move would be aimed at providing relief not so much to the heroin addicts themselves as to the beleaguered communities who bear the brunt of their habit” and wondering “By so cynically presenting the prescription of free heroin in terms of profit and loss, aren’t we reducing human life to an exercise in accounting?” She also wonders what might happen if the country seriously invested in treatment.