In a jail recently, I watched a slow, shuffling queue of men in the rain. The sight of these addicts lining up outside the dispensary for their drugs must be one of the saddest and most shameful in our prison estate, yet giving them drugs is now the cornerstone of policy throughout western Europe – the argument being that we should accept that the addicted will always be with us and, instead of trying to change them, we should limit the damage they can do to society. Just get them on a programme of controlled drug use and the public will be protected from the crime and chaos that are the bedfellows of addiction.
Maybe you have to live with your own addiction and go through the various methods of so-called treatment to understand the truth: that the methadone programme is an abuse of human rights. Every addict should be given the chance to recover. Most addicts do not believe it is possible to lead a fulfilling and drugs-free life. Their world is out of control and underpinned by the belief that they must commit crime to get drugs, or wait for the doctor to hand them over. It is shameful that our public services reinforce this view, instead of giving individuals the help they need to change.
It seems that recovery could offer an organizing paradigm to diffuse some of the tension here. If the MMTs in question adopted a recovery-oriented approach and evaluated themselves with recovery-oriented outcomes, it might offer a path to progress in this dispute.