Pubdate: Sun, 28 Apr 2002
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2002 The Observer
Author: Steve Taylor,  Paul Hayes, Adrian Smith, Teresa Williams
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Your magazine on drugs (Drugs Uncovered, last week) was excellent, but you 
missed an important part of the drugs debate - prison. From 1996-2000, the 
British taxpayer paid UKP36 million for additional sentences given to 
prisoners who tested positive for drugs. According to the Howard League for 
Penal Reform, most positive results were for cannabis. One can only imagine 
the pain of prisoners given a prison sentence as punishment for cannabis 
possession when, on the other side of the wall, smoking a joint is all but 

Steve Taylor, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire


The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) welcomes the 
development of a mature discussion about drugs. But let us not get 
distracted. Regardless of whether certain drugs are reclassified or not, 
people will still use drugs - and some will develop significant problems 
that impact on the users themselves, their friends and families, and the 
wider community. The most effective and efficient way of dealing with this 
is through treatment. The Government has recognised this. Funding for drug 
treatment in England has increased by 35 per cent this year alone and, for 
the first time, a national agency has been established to improve 
treatment. The NTA aims to at least double the number of people in 
treatment - from 100,000 in 1998 to 200,000 in 2008.

This summer, we will launch a framework for care that emphasises the need 
to co-ordinate treatment with housing, employment and other services.

The NTA is also launching major campaigns to: develop and recruit more drug 
treatment workers; reduce waiting times; and increase services for 
under-represented groups. But there is no point in having more treatment if 
it is not effective. The NTA will monitor services, co-ordinate research 
and share information on what works with treatment providers.

Paul Hayes Chief Executive, National Treatment Agency


You say in your leader last week '...medical evidence and experience alike 
are united in the view that heroin and crack cocaine have powerful 
addictive qualities and are physically and mentally destructive'. While 
both are highly addictive, the physical and mental destructiveness of 
pharmaceutically pure heroin is doubtful, though the additives the 
suppliers include have certainly claimed a number of casualties. It appears 
people can live productive if somewhat constipated lives on pure smack.

Adrian Smith, St Leonards-on-Sea, E. Sussex


There's a class of drugs that results in far more deaths than heroin: Home 
Office figures show they led to 3,433 deaths as opposed to 265 for heroin, 
morphine and opiates combined. Withdrawal is far longer, and often 
considered harder. Yet you don't even mention them. These drugs are 

Teresa Williams, Bristol
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