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Police in Durham to Provide Free Heroin for Addicts

When it comes to tackling the issue of heroin addiction, drug rehab clinics do a fantastic job. Nonetheless, many of those struggling with this type of addiction never actually reach a facility where they could be helped to overcome their illness. The reality is that many individuals with addictions to drugs are unable to access the help required, either because of not being ready to give up their drug of choice or because they do not realise there is actually a problem yet.

Drug abuse and addiction can have a devastating impact on so many lives. It is not just the user who is negatively affected; the lives of their loved ones can also be affected as well. However, most people do not realise that drug abuse also has a negative impact on the wider community and the economy. Substance abuse is costing the taxpayer millions of pounds every single year due to poor health, premature death and substance-related crime. Moreover, while drug rehab clinics work hard to help those with addictions overcome their problems, there are some who feel more needs to be done. The staff at Durham Constabulary certainly agree.

Preventing Substance-Related Crime

Durham Constabulary is the first police force in the UK to set aside funds to pay for heroin, which will then be provided free to addicts in a bid to prevent drug-related crime. What they hope is that by giving the free Class A drug to addicts, there will be a reduction in the number of individuals committing crimes to fund their habits. The force also believes that by doing this, they will be targeting dealers of the drug, who will see their income hit.

Controversial Plans

Durham’s chief constable Mike Barton knows these plans are controversial, but he believes that the plans to allow addicts to inject heroin twice a day in a supervised injection room will help tackle the drug problem. He said that the top priority of the force is to reduce crime and went on to say that the public should get over the ‘moral panic’. He added that ‘addiction is a medical problem, not a criminal justice problem’. However, as expected, the plans have been met with fierce criticism, with many believing that users of heroin will become dependent on it if they are provided with the drug for free.

Chief Constable Barton said, “We need to get over our moral panic about giving people heroin as part of a treatment plan. Police were set up to prevent crime, not to arrest people. Our primary concern is to prevent crime. If we've got people who are addicted to Class A drugs committing crime, it makes good sense to get that person off drugs. Addiction is a medical problem, not a criminal justice problem.”

Best Police Force

The chief constable has long been seen as too liberal for his views on drugs, but just last week, watchdogs rated his police force as the best in England. Barton is a keen supporter of drug decriminalisation, and he is not alone; the Police and Crime Commissioner is also a supporter.

Both believe it would be much more effective to provide free heroin to addicts as opposed to free methadone, the synthetic opioid drug that many heroin addicts are currently treated with.

Ineffective

The scheme is known as ‘heroin-assisted treatment’, and public health experts have been consulted to give their opinions on whether it could work as well as to ascertain the expected costs of such a programme.

Many critics argue that it would not be effective in terms of helping addicts to get clean. The Centre for Substance Use Research’s Professor Neil McKeganey saying, “I think the worry here is that once you set up a centre like this, it will attract addicts and they will remain dependent on heroin, undermining services committed to getting people off drugs. I think it's extraordinary if the police budget is being used in this way.”

MP David Burrowes agreed, saying, "I'm sure the public will be surprised and dismayed by this. It's one thing for public health money to be used in this way, but it's quite another for the overstretched policing budget. I'm sure this money could go to catching suppliers of drugs rather than propping up addicts.”

Treating Addiction

In the UK, the issue of drug addiction is a contentious one, with some arguing that it should be classed as a medical problem and not a criminal one. Others believe that those who take drugs are breaking the law – pure and simple.

Here at UK Rehab, we know that those affected by drug addiction have not chosen to be addicted. They are unable to control their use of drugs, and without help from drug rehab clinics, they will continue with their addictive behaviour, even when not wanting to.

Our Mission

It is our mission to connect those who want to overcome their illness with those who can help them to do so. We have contacts with various organisations throughout the UK and can find the perfect drug rehab clinics for clients based on their own individual requirements and circumstances.

If you are struggling with addiction and want to get better, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We can provide you with an assessment and referral so that you can start to get your life back on track. Our service is completely free and confidential, so nobody will know you have been in touch with us unless you want them to know. Call today for more information.

Source: Police tackling drug-related crime to handout free heroin to addicts in supervised 'shooting galleries' (The Telegraph)

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