We can’t assume that all drug use is driven by choice
The most recent drug-related death figures make a mockery of the government’s proposed Swift, certain, tough approach to possession offences. According to the ONS (p16), DRD stats focus on a particular generation, people who are now in their late 40s. Furthermore, regional data show death rates are up to seven times higher in the most deprived areas of England and Wales.
The more we understand about those who are dying, the more we can be equipped to support instead of punishing. Underlying factors are complex including trauma, stigma and lack of opportunity. Mental health issues have been a huge piece of the jigsaw, particularly during lockdown. Fastest rising substances in the league table include an anti-depressant – how could this fit with an assumption that all drug use is driven by choice? Stats underline that we have a lot of work to do in tackling stigma (p8) and offering the right targeted support – and yet again our best option is effective teamwork, from mental health services (p20) to nursing (p22) to commissioning (p12).
DDN is 18 this issue and we’d like to thank you for your support. Whatever challenges we all face, it’s heartening to see lived experience is now shaping policy. If you’ve been with us since November 2004 we’d love to hear from you!
Claire Brown, editor
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