“Gone are the days,” reads the introduction of the new drug strategy “when central Government tells communities and the public what to do.” (p2). Yet a mere seven pages later the Government does exactly that, saying “People should not start taking drugs and those who do should stop.” (p9).
So begins an excellent article on the KFx Drugs Blog, Drugs Blog: Omissions, Contradictions, and Confusion: The 2010 Government Drug Strategy reviewed. The article carefully and clearly goes through many of the problems with the government’s white paper
- Government is no longer talking about harm reduction
- No discussion of non-problematic, non-dependent recreational users (who make up the vast majority of drug users.)
- No evidence that strategies will be evidence based
- Numerous internal inconsistencies
The biggest inconsistency is left until the end. The document shows a very large confusion about the meaning of “recovery”, supposedly the central aim of new policy. The paper talks interchangably of “total abstinence” and “freedom from dependence” without any apparent awareness of how different these two things are.
in the space of six lines the Strategy has veered from a position that expounded that the only outcome should be “off drugs and alcohol for good,” and moved to a “person centred journey as opposed to an end state.”
A couple of sentences later the Strategy changes course again and defines an end-state saying “our ultimate goal is to to enable individuals to become free from their dependence.” All crystal clear then except that, a sentence later the ground has shifted again. “Supporting people to live a drug-free life is at the heart of our recovery ambition.”
Such confusion and ambiguity at the heart of the drug strategy should be a cause of huge concern. As we move towards payment by results, the interpretation of a successful result becomes more and more important. Is the successful result complete abstinence? Or is it an end to dependency? These are not the same and, if the past is anything to go by, can become the source of huge controversy.
Why is this so important? Because the other feature of modern government, especially ideologically conservative governments, is a move to “payment by results”. You can’t measure results if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve.
If you are interested in this topic or just want to see some amazing government double-speak then go read Kevin’s excellent article.
- UK govt demands an end to evidence-based drug policy (boingboing.net)
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.