FACTS vs PROPAGANDA
Members of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime are to sign a declaration to extend a “war on drugs” – a policy that some critics argue is ineffective and contributes to the spread of HIV.
But the views expressed by these critical pro-drug lobbyists (click here for details) are a distortion of the truth, writes Peter O’Loughlin.
Notwithstanding research carried out by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse — which clearly established that most people who developed dependence wish to become drug-free — in the UK, the focus for the past 10 years has been on ‘harm reduction’, rather than seeking to engage users into abstinence-focused recovery.
That this policy is disastrous and misguided is evidenced in the escalation in drug-related deaths which are at their highest for five years, 325 of which are attributed to methadone, the flagship of current harm reduction policy, together with a devastating rise in blood-borne disease among injecting drug users.
The statistics provided by the Health Protection Agency for England and Wales are as follows:
- The level of HIV infection among injecting drug users (IDUs) in England and Wales is higher now than at the start of the decade
- In London, where the prevalence of HIV in IDUs is higher than elsewhere in England and Wales, 1 in 20 IDUs is infected
- In the remainder of England and Wales, HIV among IDUs has increased from about 1 in 400 in 2002 to about 1 in 150 in 2006
- The prevalence of Hepatitis C among IDUs has increased from 33% in 2000 to 42% in 2006
- About 1 in 5 IDUs has Hepatitis B, which extrapolates as an increase approaching 200% since 1997.
The escalating increase in blood-borne disease occurred despite the plethora of needle-exchange facilities throughout England and Wales and the growth of supervised drug-consumption rooms.
It is unavoidably obvious from the foregoing that, here in the UK at least, it is not the lack of harm-reduction measures which contributes to avoidable deaths and the epidemic of the blood-borne disease being wreaked on our society. It is the use of dangerous, illegal drugs. That is why the UNODC wishes to end their use worldwide.
It is not so-called prohibition which has failed, but the encouragement, tacit permission and even not-so-tacit encouraging of continued use, inherent in too much of the harm-reduction ideology instead of good practice, which has failed users and society so abysmally. After all, only about 2% of drug users seeking help to quit via the NTA are offered therapy-led treatment – the very same abstinence-focused treatment recommended for recovery from Hepatitis C.
The main beneficiaries of pro-drug and legalization campaigns will be the pharmaceutical industry, and perhaps the tobacco industry which could use its production and distribution routes for cannabis. Such a move would inflict further incalculable harm on society, since it would result in an explosion of use and addiction, at least equal to that seen in the late 1800s when most of the drugs which are controlled today were, in fact, legal.
The growth of drug use during that period was the direct result of concerted efforts by leading members of the medical profession in promoting drug use. Many of these were influenced by Sigmund Freud, who was so unethical in his dealings that he accepted commissions from two competing pharmaceutical companies (both still in business today), to write papers extolling the benefits of life-destroying cocaine as the “elixir of life” and as a cure for alcohol and morphine addiction. The rest, as they say, is history.
Is it a coincidence that many of the bodies pressing for an end to what they term “prohibition” receive ‘research grants’ from the pharmaceutical industry?