Tsar admits: we've lost the war on drugs

By pokergod0588 · Jun 7, 2006 · ·
  1. pokergod0588

    Thursday April 13 2006

    POLICE officers are calling for all drugs to be legalised in Scotland . In a hugely controversial move, an influential group of frontline officers is demanding a radical change in the law. They say that even Class A drugs such as cocaine and heroin should no longer be illegal. The call comes from rank and file police in the country's biggest force who say radical measures are essential to tackle the spiralling drug problem.

    Strathclyde Police Federation which represents nearly all 7,700 officers in the area, says all drugs should be licensed for use by addicts. The Association says millions of pounds are wasted on futile efforts to tackle the issue, with resources diverted from other police duties.

    Inspector Jim Duffy, chairman of the federation, said the approach to drug abuse must be transformed in order to cut the death toll. He said: ”We should legalise all drugs currently covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act – everything from class A to C, including heroin, cocaine and speed.

    “We are not winning the war against drugs and we need to think about different ways to tackle it. Tell me a village where they are drug-free?”

    He added: “Despite the amount of resources and the fantastic work our girls and guys do, we are not making a difference. We don't have any control at the moment.

    Strathclyde Police Federation plans to table a discussion motion at the body's forthcoming national conference to garner support from officers across Scotland.


    Notes for Editors

    Comment from Transform Director Danny Kushlick :

    "For a policy that aims to eliminate drug supply and use, it has failed in spectacular style. Over the last 40 years illegal drug use has risen by at least 300%. Attempts to curtail drug supply have been equally ineffective, with drugs now cheaper and more available than ever before. Billions in taxpayer's money are being spent each year on a policy that is acheiving the exact opposite of its stated aim

    "When high demand for drugs collides with laws that prohibit them, the result is a dramatic rise in drug prices, with low value commodities becoming, quite literally, worth more than their weight in gold. The hugely lucrative opportunities this creates attract the violent criminal entrepreneurs who now control the worlds largest criminal market, worth £300 billion a year.

    "inflated drug prices mean that low income dependent drug users often resort to property crime or prostitution to support their habits. the Government estimates that this relatively small population of dependent heroin and cocaine users is now responsible for 54% of robberies, 70-80% of burglaries, 85% of shoplifting and 95% of street prostitution. in addition prohibition criminalises millions of (otherwise law abiding) drug using adults, making it unparalelled in its contribution to prison overcrowding and the wider crisis in the criminal justice system.

    "This is not a debate that invites fence sitters and Strathclyde police federation has courageously climbed down

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  1. Hotboxed151
    Another advance in the war on the war on drugs. I hope more countries follow the precedent.
  2. turkeyphant
    Of course, it'll never happen though...
  3. enquirewithin
    Scotland is more advanced in many ways than the dominant England. No way will a Blair-ite right-wing labour party or a Tory party either allow such a thing to happen, which is a shame because it's common sense.
  4. KorSare
    never say never...
  5. Abrad
    Scotland heading towards junkie ghettoes, says drugs expert

    Mark Macaskill, Scottish Home Affairs Correspondent
    DRUG-FREE communities where residents are randomly tested to weed out addicts could become commonplace in as little as 20 years according to Scotland’s leading drugs expert.

    Professor Neil McKeganey, a government adviser and drugs researcher from Glasgow University, believes Scotland is on the brink of a drugs epidemic where inner city neighbourhoods will become “overrun” by junkies.

    He argues the authorities can barely cope with Scotland’s 50,000 addicts — more than half of whom live in and around Glasgow — and predicts the number could easily double by 2020, creating “enormous problems” for society.

    McKeganey is concerned that drug-related crime such as murder, robbery and assault will spiral out of control unless ministers find an effective way of tackling the drugs problem.

    He believes efforts which currently focus on “stabilising” addicts — as opposed to curing their addiction — are not working.

    While not suggesting that people should face random drugs tests, McKeganey is convinced the public will support such controversial measures if the number of addicts — and the crime they commit — continues to rise.

    He believes addicts could also be banned from retail parks and shopping centres to prevent them shoplifting to fund their habit.

    His warnings follow a string of pledges by ministers to curb Scotland’s drugs problem.

    Last month, they unveiled proposals to remove children from drug-addicted parents following a case in January when a Glasgow addict’s 11-year-old daughter collapsed in class after taking heroin. A few weeks later a young toddler died after drinking the heroin substitute methadone at his home in East Lothian.

    Figures recently released by the executive show the number of under-16s being admitted to rehabilitation rose from 107 in 1998 to 418 last year. Double the number of children live in drug-addicted families in Scotland than in England.

    “If we were unable to substantially reduce the level of drug-related criminality one could start to see calls for much wider testing within communities to establish who’s using what drugs,” said McKeganey.

    “We might have to create drug-free communities using drug-testing or restrict addicts from retail areas between certain times. It would effectively create ghettos. But if we can’t control the addiction all we can do is control the movement of people.

    “Serious drug abuse has an almost unrivalled capacity to undermine elements of society, our family life and communities, which means we absolutely have to reduce the level of illegal drug-abuse.”
  6. illuminati boy
    Scary Stuff!

    Well we can have them all wear friendly little patches, so we know who is and is not an addict. We will perform tests to determine the addict from the drug free. It will all be very scientific. There will naturally be curfews at certain times. They will be watched because we know that since some addicts are lying thieves no addicts can be trusted. We might even put out public service announcements in schools warning our children to be wary of anyone with a patch. Due to the suspicion and hostility such actions will likely produce in the general population, we will round them up and move them to special camps (for their own good of course). We will have little addict concentration areas out in the wilderness far away from the everyday citizens. It will be better for everyone really…

    Seems to me I heard this bullshit somewhere else before…

    On an only slightly less alarmist note, I could see something like ‘drug free gated communities’ taking off. Your whole family has to pass a monthly piss test to remain in the community. It would just be one more condition… you know no pink flamingos in the lawn, exactly one national flag allowed, and no drug users.

    I B
  7. Forthesevenlakes
    that article is definitely a worthy read for anyone who considers themself to be a "responsible drug user". swim is counting the days till he has to wear some iron on patch in the shape of a pipe on his clothes at all times, and is forbidden to own a business or marry anyone outside of the junkie ghetto. it will be like history coming alive! seriously though, this is both alarming and disgusting at the same time...the retail idea especially. because SOME people who use drugs MIGHT shoplift, its best not to let anyone who uses drugs into a store? this is flawed thinking, but unfortunately swim can see it being very popular with the same folks who brought you the ever-popular 'war on drugs'.
  8. 788.4
    It's healthier to be a junkie than an alcholic (assuming you use clean toys). It's very rare that junkies commit violent acts like murder or serious assault. I think whenever a junkie commits a violent crime they assume it had something to do with them being a junkie.
  9. Abrad
    Scotland on Sunday
    Tom Wood, a former deputy chief constable, is the first senior law enforcement figure publicly to admit drug traffickers will never be defeated. Picture: Callum Bennetts

    SCOTLAND'S drugs tsar has sparked a furious row by openly declaring that the war on drugs is "long lost".

    Tom Wood, a former deputy chief constable, is the first senior law enforcement figure publicly to admit drug traffickers will never be defeated.

    Wood said no nation could ever eradicate illegal drugs and added that it was time for enforcement to lose its number one priority and be placed behind education and deterrence.

    But his remarks have been condemned by Graeme Pearson, director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), who said he "strongly disagreed" with Wood.

    The row has erupted as concern mounts about the apparent inability of police, Customs and other agencies to stem the flow of illegal drugs. It was reported yesterday that an eight-year-old Scottish school pupil had received treatment for drug addiction.

    And despite decades of drug enforcement costing millions of pounds, Scotland has one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with an estimated 50,000 addicts. At least half a million Scots are believed to have smoked cannabis and 200,000 are believed to have taken cocaine.

    Wood holds the influential post of chairman of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, a body which advises the Executive on future policy. The fact that Wood and Pearson are at loggerheads over the war on drugs is severely embarrassing for ministers.

    Wood said: "I spent much of my police career fighting the drugs war and there was no one keener than me to fight it. But latterly I have become more and more convinced that it was never a war we could win.

    "We can never as a nation be drug-free. No nation can, so we must accept that. So the message has to be more sophisticated than 'just say no' because that simple message doesn't work.

    "For young people who have already said 'yes', who live in families and communities where everybody says 'yes', we have to recognise that the battle is long lost."

    He added: "Throughout the last three decades, enforcement has been given top priority, followed by treatment and rehabilitation, with education and deterrence a distant third.

    "In order to make a difference in the long term, education and deterrence have to go to the top of the pile. We have to have the courage and commitment to admit that we have not tackled the problem successfully in the past. We have to win the arguments and persuade young people that drugs are best avoided."

    Wood said he "took his hat off" to the SCDEA and added that it was essential to carry on targeting dealers. He stressed he was not advocating the decriminalisation or legalisation of any drugs.

    "It's about our priorities and our thinking," said Wood. "Clearly, at some stage, there could be resource implications, but the first thing we have to do is realise we can't win any battles by continuing to put enforcement first."

    But Pearson, director of the SCDEA, said he "fundamentally disagreed" that the war on drugs was lost.

    "I strongly disagree when he says that the war on drugs in Scotland is lost. The Scottish Executive Drug Action Plan acknowledged that tackling drug misuse is a complex problem, demanding many responses. It is explicit within the strategy that to effectively tackle drug misuse, the various pillars of the plan cannot operate in isolation."

    Alistair Ramsay, former director of Scotland Against Drugs, said: "We must never lose sight of the fact that enforcement of drug law is a very powerful prevention for many people and, if anything, drug law should be made more robust.

    "The current fixation with treatment and rehabilitation on behalf of the Executive has really got to stop."

    And Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: "I accept Wood's sincerity, but this is a very dangerous message to go out. I would never say that we have lost the war on drugs. Things are dire, but we should never throw up the white flag."

    But Wood's view was backed by David Liddell, director of the Scottish Drugs Forum, who said: "We have never used the term 'drugs war' and it's right to move away from that sort of approach. For every £1 spent on treatment, £9-£18 is saved, including in criminal justice. The balance has been skewed towards more punitive aspects."

    And John Arthur, manager of the drugs advice organisation Crew 2000, said: "I think Tom Wood is right. This is something our organisation has been arguing for for a long time and it is good to see this is now coming into the mainstream."

    Among the ideas now backed by Wood is less reliance on giving methadone as a substitute to heroin addicts.

    He says other substitutes should be considered, as well as the possibility of prescribing heroin itself or abstinence programmes.

    One new method being examined by experts is neuro-electric therapy, which sends electrical pulses through the brain. One addict with a five-year habit, Barry Philips, 24, from Kilmarnock, said the treatment enabled him to come off heroin in only five days.

    Wood said: "We need to look at the other options. Other substitutes are used in other countries. They even prescribe heroin in Switzerland and there is a pilot in Germany, with pilots also mooted in England and, more recently, Scotland. We need to have a fully informed debate."

    A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "We have a very clear policy on drugs, which is to balance the need to tackle supply and challenge demand. They have to go hand in hand and we make no apology for that."
  10. Nature Boy
    It's sad to see that it takes a scenario like Scotland's (with its 50,000 heroin addicts) for high-ranking drug authorities to finally see sense and admit they can't win the war on drugs. If Scotland does introduce a huge overhaul on how drug use should be treated, does this mean that every country has to get ravaged before people start solving the problem?
  11. Lunar Loops
    Tsar is wrong - drugs war can be won, says minister

    Unfortunately, Nature Boy, I don't think even that fact will make a blind bit of difference when it comes to implementing policy in Scotland or anywhere else. There's none so blind.....this reponse from the Scotland's Health Minister appears on The Scotsman (http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=895552006) :
    Tsar is wrong - drugs war can be won, says minister

    SCOTLAND'S health minister yesterday stepped into a dispute over the country's anti-drugs policies by insisting the "war" on narcotics could be won.
    Andy Kerr spoke out after Tom Wood, Scotland's drugs "tsar", sparked a row by claiming that the battle to reduce drug abuse by focusing on weeding out dealers and traffickers was "long lost".
    The former deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police said Scotland had relied too heavily on enforcement, and he insisted that reducing the demand for drugs through education was more important.
    Mr Wood, who chairs the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action teams, said: "I spent much of my police career fighting the drugs war and there was no-one keener than me to fight it.
    "But, latterly, I have become more and more convinced that it was never a war we could win. We can never as a nation be drug-free. No nation can, so we must accept that."
    He said it had to be accepted that decades of enforcement policies being prioritised had not been successful and that, instead, the focus should switch to winning the arguments to persuade youngsters that "drugs are best avoided".
    However, Mr Wood's comments were criticised by Graeme Pearson, the director of the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency, who said: "I strongly disagree when he says that the war on drugs in Scotland is lost."
    Mr Kerr added: "If you'd said Scotland's kids would be eating more healthily in school, they would have said it couldn't be done, so I'm very positive about these matters.
    "We need to be positive and there's different ways of doing this. We're working hard to make sure we're successful and I do believe we can win that war, but it's going to need a lot of hard effort."
    Scotland has one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with an estimated 50,000 heroin addicts.
    Statistics released by the Scottish Executive last week showed that 548 children and young people aged 16 and under, including an eight-year-old, were treated for drug abuse in 2004-5. Last night, Mr Wood praised police for the way they were tackling drug dealers, but stuck by his original comments.
    "The Scottish drugs enforcement agency is one of the best in Europe. However, we have to accept that police activity has not reduced supply," he said.
    "It has not made a difference to the price or the purity."
  12. Lunar Loops
    Msps Demand Summit Over Drugs Scourge

    And this from today's Daily Record (Scotland) :

    19 June 2006
    Plea after cop warns war is lost
    By Magnus Gardham

    MSPs yesterday called for a drugs summit to take a fresh look at ways of tackling Scotland's growing problem.
    It followed a warning by ex-Lothian and Borders deputy chief constable Tom Wood that the drug war was "long lost".
    Now Nationalists and Tories want a major policy review.
    Tory MSP David McLetchie said: "A lot of mixed messages come from the Executive. We need to get that sorted out.
    "We need an overall strategy and a clearer understanding of what we're trying to achieve." Wood, who now chairs the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, also claimed that dealers could not be beaten.
    He added: "We can never as a nation be drug-free. No nation can, so we must accept that."​

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    He said education and deterring people from taking drugs should get top priority, ahead of crackdowns on dealers and rehab for addicts.

    But his comments were rejected by Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency head Graeme Pearson. He said he "strongly disagreed" that the war on drugs had been lost. Their clash reflects growing concern.

    Scotland has an estimated 50,000 addicts. Recent cases have highlighted the dangers faced by children.

    More than 500 Scots youngsters were treated for addiction last year.

    Yesterday, the SNP hinted they would include plans for a drugs summit in their manifesto for the 2007 Scottish parliament election if the idea is blocked before then.

    They also called for an annual report on the criminal drugs "industry".

    An Executive spokesman said: "We have a very clear policy on drugs, which is to balance the need to tackle supply and challenge demand."
  13. Nature Boy
    Bah! I should have seen it coming.
  14. The Doors
    It was a typical thing to expect, but at least more and more people are letting the word out, which in my eyes, is a good thing. The more the word is spread out, the more people will be inclined to listen eventually building a bigger support group. Maybe I'm dreaming, but I've still got hope.
  15. Abrad
    Mafia sets up close links with Scottish drugs gangs

    Scottish criminals are stepping up their connections with organised gangs across Europe, including the mafia, to benefit from lucrative drugs and money-laundering schemes.
    The head of the agency that combats serious and organised crime in Scotland has called for a financial investigation centre for the whole of Europe to be set up here.
    It would be in charge of seizing criminal assets and curbing the growing threat of international operations.
    Graeme Pearson, the director of the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), says the increased networking of Scottish criminals demands greater joint working by the authorities in many countries.
    His proposal follows evidence of growing co-operation between criminal gangs in Scotland and those from Eastern Europe and other parts of the Continent. Specialists from the SCDEA have warned that Scottish criminals are working with gangs in countries such as Estonia and Latvia to launder money, because their banking stipulations and legislation are less strict than in the UK.
    Cities such as London have reported problems with organised crime from Albania, Russia and Ukraine, and a recent report from Europol, the EU police agency, said 40,000 people were involved in organised crime across Europe.
    Eastern European criminals have earned themselves a violent reputation. In Italy, Albanian gangs have muscled the mafia out of many of its traditional haunts.
    Mr Pearson said: "We have seen a number of ethnic groups from Albania, Holland and Italy engaging with criminal groups here to do mutual business. The trick is to link our intelligence with financial investigations."
    He added: "We now know we can contact financial investigations units in every European country."
    His comments follow a two-year operation led by the SCDEA's predecessor, the SDEA, which culminated in eight tonnes of cannabis being recovered from a British-registered trawler intercepted off the west coast of Spain. It involved months of surveillance and Spanish police, Europol, Customs and the National Crime Squad worked with the SDEA to capture the men behind it. Officers seized £61m worth of drugs including heroin and cocaine and arrested nine men in the UK and Spain.
    Ringleader John Gorman, 49, from Irvine, Ayrshire, was given a 12-year sentence after he was found guilty of being involved in the supply of drugs with a street value of more than £360,000 and laundering £178,000 of drug money.
    Detective Sergeant Gary Deans, of the Scottish money laundering unit which forms part of the SCDEA, said they had recently been working with the police in Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Hungary.
    Last year, Scotland hosted the first conference of the European Suspicious Transactions Reporting group at Loch Lomond. Scotland currently holds the presidency for the ongoing working group.
    However, Mr Pearson believes going further and establishing a European hub, specialising in financial investigations, would help undermine the finances and spread of criminal gangs. The creation of such a body would have to be agreed with the Scottish Executive and Westminster.
  16. Abrad
    There's no easy fix for drugs problem


    "The advantage of being clean and sober is that you can do anything you want in life, except drink and take drugs," says Dr Alasdair Young. "If I am on methadone, I can't practice as a doctor, I can't drive a railway train. You might not want me as your car mechanic or teaching your children in school.

    "It also causes problems if you want to go on holiday. It's not a normal lifestyle. The idea that people on long-term methadone live perfectly normal lives is wrong."

    Young is an addict psychiatrist who most recently worked at Castle Craig, a residential hospital treating drug and alcohol dependency in Peeblesshire. He thinks the only viable solution is abstinence.

    Of course it's not a new idea. The "Minnesota model" and the fellowships associated with it, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, has been around for more than 50 years. Young believes it's not been taken up here because methadone is seen as a cheaper alternative.

    "Abstinence is perceived by politicians as an expensive option and it's true over the six weeks or six months that an individual is in treatment it's probably more expensive than simply putting them on methadone. But if after that they are clean and sober, they are costing the state nothing compared to 15 to 20 years on methadone - and those costs include the medication, the cost of supervising them, and the fact that they're unlikely to work so don't contribute to the economy."

    One of the prime figures in Scotland's drugs fight also believes that an abstinence option should be made more available.

    Tom Wood, Edinburgh's drug tsar, has said he would like to see the abstinence model being given more prominence in the whole of Scotland - and he's keen to see a pilot set up in Edinburgh.

    But abstinence - a physical residential detox with counselling on how to survive, followed by support back out in the community through fellowship meetings - does sound suspiciously naive.

    "It is a simple idea," agrees Young. "But it's not easy. It's uncomfortable, painful, frightening and undignified."

    And he says it's not just a matter of detoxing people then throwing them back out into a situation where old temptations still lurk. "Detox is about safety, it's getting people clean and sober, but it doesn't allow people to stay that way. You have to go on and teach them how to do that."

    Abstinence is also claimed to have a high failure rate compared to methadone but Young does not accept this. "Do you know what the failure rate for methadone is?" he asks. "The difference is that the people who try to teach abstinence tend to measure their success in terms of total abstinence, while harm minimisation or whatever you want to call it is measured in terms of arrests, or imprisonment, or going to hospital."

    He adds: "What we need is a groundswell change. If you go back to the 1750s, the use of alcohol and drugs was horrifically widespread. And then the temperance movement came along. This didn't come from the politicians, it was a public movement.

    "It was very powerful in Scotland. There was a popular groundswell of opinion which said enough is enough. It was dramatically effective.

    "I don't want to rubbish methadone. There is no doubt that for some people it has a place as part of their addiction career, but I think even someone who chooses the long-term methadone pathway should still be offered the option of abstinence from time to time."

    Martin Bonnar, service manager for Turning Point Scotland, which runs a number of services in Edinburgh, including a needle exchange, believes there may be some use for this idea which has been promoted by former Scottish drugs minister Richard Simpson.

    Bonnar says: "There is a small group of individuals who have been through drug treatment and are still using it chaotically and still at risk of overdose, injury and death. Because of that, if the pilots from Canada, Switzerland and Germany are showing there are benefits then we have to look at it."

    Indeed, in one Swiss project in Bern, half the drug users on the heroin programme had moved into work and away from the drug scene after 12 months, while the numbers living on illegal income had plummeted from 69 per cent to 12 per cent by the end of the same period. The Scottish Drugs Forum also believes that heroin prescribing could be the way ahead - for some addicts.

    Director David Liddell says: "Scotland should have its own pilot on heroin prescribing because we have one of the largest heroin problems in the UK - there are an estimated 51,000 problem drug users here, of whom nearly 23,000 are injectors.

    "There seems to be strong evidence that heroin prescribing can work by helping people who have failed to engage with other treatment programmes and who would otherwise have no contact at all with services.

    "Some may argue that the Scottish public is not ready for such an approach. Yet the people of Scotland - drug users, their families and the communities where they live - are desperate for new solutions. A pilot in Scotland could establish the facts so that the public could see for themselves the benefits of this new approach."

    The problem some - including addicts - see with methadone is there is no reduction programme and their lives are stuck as a result because they are still regarded as addicts by potential employers.

    Bonnar says: "Until about five or six years ago, the concentration was on controlling infectious diseases... HIV, Aids, hepatitis. The focus was on getting people away from high-risk behaviour. Methadone was very effective, but recently we have started to ask: What happens next?

    "If there are a number of reasons why people take drugs, we need a menu of options. Every drug treatment which is available will benefit some and not others. In the end it might not be about being drug-free. It may just be having a stable lifestyle - which is what methadone does."

    David Liddell adds: "The evidence is people often choose to withdraw from substitute drugs when other aspects of their lives start to come together - housing, relationships, education and training. Treatment is only part of the equation - a high degree of motivation and crucially, optimism about living a life without being drug-dependent is as important, if not more so.

    "The problem in Scotland is that the credibility of methadone as a viable treatment has been undermined by the failure to provide the essential support measures to make it work properly. It's like buying a bike without wheels and complaining it isn't working."

    Certainly it doesn't seem possible to judge how successful the methadone programme in the Lothians - which costs around £1.5m a year - has been.

    According to NHS Lothian there are no success rates for those on methadone, because such information is not recorded in a direct fashion. Director of Public Health and Health Policy, Dr Alison McCallum, says part of the problem is that what GPs hope to achieve with patients on methadone varies according to their needs, but that things are set to change. "If you talk of 'cure' in relation to drug use, you set yourself up to fail which is similar to any addiction," she says. "GPs have been operating a relatively new system over the last two years which they use to monitor improvement rates. But this is done on an individual basis and information is not collated formally.

    "But a single shared assessment form between NHS Lothian, local authority services and the voluntary sector is in the process of being piloted. This will enhance assessment processes and communication between services working with drug users."

    Ultimately it's hoped this will show what does and doesn't work for patients on methadone.

    TRANSITION, based in Blair Street, is one of the new breed of drugs agencies which look beyond just stopping people injecting street heroin.

    The organisation, which has been running for three years, is designed to get recovering drug and alcohol addicts into work or further education.

    Manager Sian Fiddimore explains: "The idea is that when they come here they are no longer using. Although we have people here on scripts of some sort - the majority methadone - they are stable. And we have people who are clean as well.

    "We are partners with Jewel and Esk and Telford colleges and offer accredited qualifications. The idea is that they come here to get some structure to their lives and progress to further education.

    "In the last 11 months we have had 326 referrals with 136 people starting on programmes."

    In the same time period, clients have collected 50 assorted qualifications.

    Rather than a casual drop-in centre, Transition is structured more like a workplace or a college course. Clients are required to turn up at a certain time each day, or call with an explanation if they are late. If they need time off it has to be arranged in advance.

    Sian believes this kind of service helps push people towards a goal - the kind of push that's not always evident on methadone programmes.

    "I don't think methadone in isolation works. It needs to be coupled with something like Transition. There doesn't seem to be a reduction approach and often people want to move on in their lives."

    However, she says there is some misunderstanding with methadone - all Transition's methadone-taking clients are on low enough doses to concentrate for a full day of classes. "The Scottish Drugs Forum has recently issued a methadone leaflet which says in some circumstances you can drive or operate machinery on methadone. People should be taken on an individual basis."
    No-one's going to give you a job knowing you're on methadone

    SCOTT RUTHERFORD, 22, from the city centre is a recovering addict.

    "It probably starts with my childhood. I was abused as a child sexually. It only went on for a few weeks, though that's long enough, obviously. I was 11 or 12. This guy was 17 or 18.

    "Around about the same time my mum and dad told me my dad wasn't my dad, he was my stepdad. I didn't get on with him after that. As soon as I was 16, I had to leave. I started to get involved in alcohol.

    "I had a job at a car showroom on Seafield Road and I packed that in and went to Glasgow, and went to live in a hostel with 260 other people.

    "There were these guys who had lived in hostels for years. They knew the streets. I wanted to be one of the boys. I started trying heroin. I smoked it for a week, then I went straight on to injecting.

    "I funded it by begging. I used to dress so that I was quite clean and respectable and put a couple of rucksacks on my back and pretended I just needed my bus fare to Dundee or wherever. I'd stay until I got £60 to £70."

    This continued from the age of 17 until Scott was 20. He also stole from shops and his family to fund his habit.

    "I have been in prison several times, for house-breaking, shoplifting, theft, fraud, breach of the peace through my alcohol use. I used to spend £40-£50 a day on heroin. The rest would go on stuff like cream cakes and cigarettes - the usual stuff that drug addicts eat when they are off their face.

    "I'm eight and a half stone - it's the heaviest I've been for years. I was 19 when I first asked for help."

    So began a string of attempts to come off drugs, including methadone. "I was prescribed 70ml of methadone but within eight days I was up to 110ml. I just kept asking to go up and they just put it up because it shuts you up."

    He moved back to Edinburgh seven weeks ago and is still determined to get clean - although now he is battling with his doctor.

    "The doctor is adamant if I come off methadone I will go back on heroin. But I'm attending Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous meetings and I want to do the 12-step recovery programme and I want to be clean.

    "I tell the doctor I want to come down 10mls a week and she writes me a script coming down 5mls a fortnight. I think it's stopping me getting clean. It's holding me back from a decent lifestyle. I want a job, and in a few years to have a wife, kids, a house, a car. Methadone holds you back.

    "You have to declare that you're taking it to an employer because you have to get away to pick up your script. No-one's going to give you a job knowing that.

    "There's a whole attitude towards addicts. There is no respect for us at all. I used to say people looked down on addicts, now I say they don't look at us at all. [People in authority] speak to you as if you are a piece of s***. It's horrible, I don't think they know how much it hurts.

    "I'm in touch with my family and that's pushing me to get clean - that my family are giving me a chance.

    "I've got two things to say on the [prescribed] heroin idea. It would be safer, cleaner and more hygienic, but I believe it would have just given me an excuse to use. I believe it would create users and increase their use."
  17. Abrad
    100 Scots A Day Caught With Drugs

    Fears over user numbers
    POLICE catch almost 100 people in possession of illegal drugs in Scotland every day.

    More than 34,500 individuals were found to be carrying ecstasy, cocaine, cannabis or other illegal substances in 2005-06.

    The figure meant a rise of almost seven per cent on the previous year's total of 32,413.

    Northern Constabulary had the biggest increase of 29.6 per cent.

    The country's smallest police force caught 2229 people in possession of illegal drugs compared to 1720 drug users last year.

    Strathclyde Police - Scotland's largest force - recorded an increase of 5.7 per cent.

    Their officers caught 19,684 people with drugs, compared with 18,630 in 2004-05.

    The figures, which were released under the Freedom of Information k Act, showed that the west of Scotland has the nation's highest toll of drug abusers. Only Tayside Police saw a drop in the number of people caught.

    They found 2544 people with drugs on them compared with 2608 last year - a 2.5 per cent fall.

    The country's remaining five police forces also saw rises in the number of drug possessions.

    Tom Wood, chairman of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action teams, said: "The increase in the number of people caught possessing drugs is a clear indicator that more and more people are starting to dabble in recreational drugs. That is very disturbing."

    The number of drug deaths in Scotland has also rocketed so far this year, with Strathclyde Police alone having to deal with 83 - 30 more than in the same period last year.
  18. Lunar Loops
    Scotland is losing the battle on drug abuse, warns UN report

    Just as an add-on to that article, the following article appeared in the Sunday Times - Scotland (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2090-2252988.html).

    Scotland is losing the battle on drug abuse, warns UN report

    Camillo Fracassini and Nicola Smith
    [​IMG]SCOTLAND has some of the highest levels of hard drug abuse in Europe, according to a United Nations report.
    Figures from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime show that Scotland has the second highest level of amphetamine abuse of any European country and the third highest level of cocaine and ecstasy abuse.
    NI_MPU('middle');The proportion of people in Scotland using amphetamines — a highly addictive and potentially deadly drug — is twice as high as in Poland and the Netherlands and 14 times higher than in Greece and Portugal.
    The proportion of people using ecstasy in Scotland is eclipsed only by the Czech Republic and England. Abuse of the so-called rave drug is three times higher than in Germany and almost four times that of Portugal, Italy and Cyprus.
    Cocaine use was the third highest of the 32 countries examined, with only England and Spain using more. Currently 1.4% of 15-year-olds to 64-year-olds in Scotland use the drug, compared with just 0.4% in Northern Ireland, 0.3% in France and 0.1% in Greece.
    Although the report does not include figures for heroin abuse in Scotland, experts said addiction levels north of the border are now twice those of England.
    The statistics, published last week, show that Scotland has failed to shake off its drug-taking culture, immortalised in the Irvine Welsh book Trainspotting, and raise fears that the police are losing the war on drugs.
    Figures released last week by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) show that the value of drugs seizures reached almost £50m last year. The amount of class A drugs seized by the agency rose 7% to 383kg.
    Over the past year the number of people found in possession of drugs rose by just under 7% to 34,599 and 40 more people died from overdoses than in 2004/5.
    The UN figures have also prompted renewed criticism of the government’s drug policy and of the executive’s Know the Score campaign. Since cannabis was downgraded to a class C drug, the number of children treated for cannabis abuse has almost doubled. Last year, 376 children were treated for cannabis addiction.
    Earlier this month, Tom Wood, the former chief constable of Lothian and Borders and a government drug adviser, warned that the police were fighting a losing battle against dealers and the “just say no message” had failed.
    Wood, chairman of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, said he was concerned by the number of young people involved in recreational drug use.
    “We have got to get better at education and rehabilitation,” he said. “The big worry to me is the large number of young people who are drifting into drug abuse, mixed with alcohol, and see it as the norm. This is a ticking bomb.” Professor Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at Glasgow University, said: “We have successfully confined the serious drug abusing group to about 2% of the population, but it is in the interest of drug suppliers and dealers to encourage wider consumption to increase their profits. “It is only by vigorous enforcement activities that we can really hope to limit the actions of those who are determined to promote drug use.”
    Graeme Pearson, director of the SCDEA, said the UN report was a “timely and additional reminder of the dangers attached to so-called recreational drugs”.
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