Let's be honest about drug-taking say docs
The medical magazine The Lancet has said people need to be able to be honest about their illegal drug-use if the problem is to be dealt with effectively.
The journal says that public condemnation of what it calls 'the recreational drug scene' has led to secrecy among users that is making drug-related problems worse. It is estimated that one in three people aged 16-59 have used illegal drugs at some time - that adds up to about 11 million people. But these are little more than educated guesses based on surveys in which people may or may not be honest.
The editorial in The Lancet says: 'Without open debate, we cannot know the true extent of the problem. Without open debate, there can be no accurate quantification of the risk of harm and doctors remain starved of the knowledge necessary to cope with the acute and long-term effects of drug use.'
Harry Shapiro from the charity DrugScope welcomed The Lancet's stance. She told the BBC: 'The Lancet is right to call for a cooling in the overheated climate in which drug misuse is too often discussed. We cannot hope for much progress without such a change taking place.
'The current focus on crime and public nuisance can obscure the wider health and welfare dimensions of substance misuse, and narrow views of the "drug problem" contribute to the neglect of other kinds of harm and other kinds of victim.
'We must be clear and consistent about the risks and dangers of psycho-active drugs. But if the message is out of line with people's lived experience, then drug policy will lose credibility, sensible advice will be discounted and the risks and dangers of drug misuse will increase.'
- How can we have a grown-up discussion about drugs in the UK? The health messages pushed by government often don't match up to the real experiences of users. On the other hand, some drugs can be very dangerous but people often delay asking for help because of the risk of criminalisation. As it stands nobody can really be honest about what they're using or how often.
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Page created on June 20th, 2005
Page updated on January 16th, 2010