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Drug treatment - success or failure?

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Mark Easton | 10:58 UK time, Friday, 3 October 2008

Drug treatment officials were busy rubbishing my journalism yesterday afternoon, telling anyone who would listen that the man from the BBC had got his figures wrong. (Listen to my report on the Today programme)

I wouldn't burden you with details of the statistical spat, except I think the episode goes to the heart of the debate over what England's half a billion pounds a year drug treatment programme is for.

The National Treatment Agency (NTA) yesterday published its annual figures showing yet another big increase in the numbers of people who were on the drug treatment programme last year - 202,000 altogether. (Trebles all round - government target achieved in style.)

Not mentioned in the press notice, discretely lodged in a table near the bottom of the data release, was the number of people who left the treatment programme drug-free last year - 7,324

What I did, and what so infuriated the people at the NTA, was to compare the two. The arithmetic was pretty simple. Just 3.6% of those in treatment were discharged free of illegal drugs.

They didn't like that - not one bit. An email was sent out from the press office steering other journalists away from doing the same sum. "Just in case anyone is tempted to follow the BBC's 3.6% figure", warned Director of Communications Jon Hibbs, "we think this is a misleading way to interpret the data: it's like measuring a school's GCSE success by counting the number of A grades as proportion of the total school population".

The NTA prefer to focus on the number in treatment and the number retained for 12 weeks - the government's measures of success. There is no target for getting people off drugs.

If pressed, they will argue that the data shows that those who left drug-free represent 11% of those who were discharged from treatment.

That looks a bit better. But do you see what they've done? They have ignored the tens of thousands of people who are in drug treatment but were not discharged.

People like Andrew Walters who I met in Sunderland this week who has spent ten years on methadone for his heroin addiction.Andrew Walters

Andrew is supposedly part of the drug treatment success story. He has appeared in the statistics for a decade but he says no-one seems interested in trying to get him clean.

"It's like everyone's give up on you", he tells me. Andrew pleaded to be allowed to get into residential rehab, but each time he was turned down. "On five separate occasions I asked them. Five times. I just got put to one side."

Methadone may have helped him untangle some of the chaos in his life, but in his view it has got him no nearer getting off drugs. He's just been parked. "They like giving methadone out", he says. "If you ask to top up your methadone they'll put it up without any questions."

But he doesn't want to be on methadone - a "vile drug" he calls it. It has rotted his teeth and ruled his daily routine. "I was just topping off with heroin", he admits.

When I first pointed out the very small proportion of users who left England's treatment programme drug free on the BBC Today programme last year, in the words of one academic in the field, it set off a small nuclear explosion in the drugs world.

The system had been patting itself on the back for getting lots of people signed up for treatment but people had not noticed what happened afterwards. The focus was on inputs not outcomes.

A debate many had thought won and lost a decade ago was reopened. Should the aim of drug treatment be to reduce harm or get people off drugs?

The harm reductionists had long ruled the roost with a philosophy of helping people who misuse drugs get their lives straight so crime and health risks were reduced. It is a worthy aim but some in the drugs field believed the system needed to be more ambitious.

In a report sent to drug teams this week, the NTA itself bemoans the way that residential services are too often used "as a last resort rather than as a concerted attempt to achieve long-term abstinence earlier in a drug-using career."
"This has led to unsatisfactory outcomes for all involved", it notes.

It was more than 'unsatisfactory'; it was very nearly fatal for Andrew who attempted suicide after being turned down for rehab. "The only reason they found me was my room in the bedsit place was above the office and they heard me hit the floor" he tells me. "They come in and I still had the needle in my body."

If you look at the figures published yesterday you see that last year 79,619 people were in treatment for the whole year. One of those was Andrew. The vast majority will be heroin addicts who are on prescriptions for methadone or another substitute. They may be in treatment for a long time to come.

It is not easy to get someone off drugs. It can take years and there may well be many false dawns on the way. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Professor David Best, an internationally renowned expert on drugs, is about to publish new research into what helped a cohort of ex-addicts get clean. "The only type of formal treatment service that was often cited as being among 'the key things that finally helped you to become abstinent' was residential rehabilitation", he reports.

Professor Best goes on to criticise the lack of ambition in the system. "The experiences of this population are at odds with the 'chronic, relapsing condition' mantra which pervades UK drug services", he writes.

The latest figures show that 147,000 of the individuals in treatment were being given prescribed medication - 74% of all those on the programme. How many accessed residential rehab? The data shows it was less than 5,000 - around 2% of the treatment population.

So I make no apology for comparing the total number of people in treatment with the number who leave the system drug free. To do otherwise would be to ignore the plight of those, like Andrew, who want to get clean but are not given the help.


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  • 1. At 12:04pm on 03 Oct 2008, McKeganey wrote:

    Mark's intrepretation of the NTA figures is correct. In their response to the Today report the NTA are effectively saying that treatment is only aiming for abstinence with a tiny minority of clients (the A grade pupils). That statement is very revealing
    - revealing of the deep fear within the NTA, within the world of drug abuse treatment, and within government of acknowledging that drug abuse treatment should be about getting all individuals off the drugs that are causing them and others so much harm. The fear being that judged in these terms, treatment may be seen as failing the vast majority of those who are in contact with services. But of course arguing that recovery (abstinence) is the preserve of the few is undermining the entire treatment industry. It is ironic of course that most people, if asked, would entirely accept that getting people off drugs is extraordinarily difficult and on that basis may accept the 3% figure as a sad fact of life. What is unacceptable, however, is the way in which the NTA and the government have sought to remove abstinence from the treatment equation virtually in its entirety. They seem unable to realise that it is in this respect that they have fundamentally lost the confidence of the public. Aiming high and falling short is one thing -aiming low and falling even lower is quite another.

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  • 2. At 12:51pm on 03 Oct 2008, vagueofgodalming wrote:

    I worked briefly in this area several years ago. The underlying political assumption was that the electorate cares about crime, but doesn't care about drug users. I think pretty much everything you say follows from that.

    It would be nice if that assumption were false, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

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  • 3. At 12:55pm on 03 Oct 2008, Chris wrote:

    It seems to me that to use the NTA's own analogy, they would measure the success of the education system by counting the proportion of people that are attending school.

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  • 4. At 1:36pm on 03 Oct 2008, machinehappydays wrote:

    I meet with drug users, alcoholics and gamblers, in my work.
    I have no figures to offer except what I am told and my experience.
    Those who recieve treatment and attend meetings (NA, AA, GA) to get the support of the group are in with a better chance than those who come straight from treatment and try to stay off on their own.
    The government has targets, these people need so much more, so they can STAY off these crippling addictions.
    Without government funding these groups band together and help each other.
    Even with treatment, and attending meetings only 1 in 10 approx. make it and never have to go back to their personal hell.
    Stopping their addiction is one thing, staying stopped is another.
    Their are groups all over the country and it is wonderful to see theese people living a happy, normal, useful, life.

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  • 5. At 1:50pm on 03 Oct 2008, Jaknet wrote:

    Well done Mark.

    It's a pleasure to see someone prepared to point out the realities of these "schemes" not actually working. Rather than following the normal "pat each other on the back" and release large figures hoping no-one actually realises the lack of content with the figures.

    Seems to be yet another organisation trying to justify it's existence (and funding I guess from tax payers money) when it's really failing to do the job.

    So according to their "logic" having a very large number of people that they have failed to help is a success. Sorry but when is a 96.4% failure rate successful.

    Typical bureaucratic double speak and misleading numbers just to save them actually having to do the job they were created to do, or be held accountable for their failures.

    (Still it's only drug users they are failing to help so it does not matter and they don't care /sarcasm)

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  • 6. At 1:58pm on 03 Oct 2008, KathyJG wrote:

    It was clear nearly two years ago now when I researched 'Empty Beds -The Crisis in Residential Referrals' for the first Addiction Report in Breakdown Britain that the NTA were presiding over the running down of residential rehabilitation - the pre- existing treatment system - a cottage industry, too small and too inaccessible maybe - but effective none the less. (Many rehabs were confident of 60% drug free success rates after as little as a 12 week stay with continued commitment to Narcotic Anonymous attendance.) We found then that 1,200 beds were lying empty. Many of the Rehabs then in crisis two years later have been forced to closed. Thurston House is but one.

    The NTA failed then and has consistently failed to act to correct structural defects on residential funding. The question is why were they so unwilling to 'disinvest in mainstream treatment' or 'to divert central rescources allocated for funding treatment to another purpose'?( 2005/6 Business Plan) when that 'other purpose' was to get people better. But getting people drug free and better was never what the NTA was about.

    The policy edifice on which the NTA is built was harm reduction, the aim being to minimise health, crime and social harms, in that order. The underlying curious assumptions were that this was possible without actually addressing the core problem of drug use, drug dependency or addiction per se', that drug use is manageable and not innately harmful, that it is anyway a chronically relapsing condition not treatable other than by substitute prescribing and that has to be lived through - even if this takes ten or twenty years out of someone's life.

    The NTA's devotion to this doctrine in face of the realities on the ground, survey research and the testimonies of thousands and thousand of recovered addicts is simply startling. The justification for it they repeatedly revert to is extraordinarily limited and largely irrelevant - the NICE 'evidence' of some dozen or methadone trials. This small research justification (in face of the conclusions of the NTORS and DORIS large scale survey outcomes) has left the NTA presiding over the destruction of the treatment that actually works. And it finds them responsible for the emergence of a brand new problem - a culture of methadone, wine and welfare supplying ever circulating cases to add to numbers 'treatment'.

    Most had fallen into line with the architects of harm reduction policy - up till now. It all sounded so good to the liberal ear and who does not want to agree that it is important to reduce harms.

    But thanks to Mark for publicly exposing the truth of a massive treatment system that does not actually get anyone better but actually delays and reduces chances of getting better, the penny has begun to drop. The NTA find themselves forced to admit that making people better was never the intention of their policy in the first place.

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  • 7. At 2:01pm on 03 Oct 2008, kencharman wrote:

    If the main objective is to stop drug users from causing damage and harm to others, the NTA has the right approach though they should be more open.

    There is only one pot of money and it is not bottomless. So, funding the process of getting drug users clean has to be weighed against the high cost and high failure rate of rehab compared to the needs of other NHS patients who did not willingly and wantonly create their own health problems.

    Tough decisions about who is more deserving are made all the time by the NHS and though drug users are often portrayed as victims of poverty, ignorance, despair etc, when rationing limited resources the health system has to be pragmatic. This is not a place for moral judgements. The money has to flow to where it does the most good.

    By the point when they start to use drugs all new users have chosen to ignore health advice and warnings. Many feel they can resist or kick the habit later. If the NTA was successful in offering a cure it might even create a moral hazard by fuelling this naive misconception. So, perhaps instead of presenting its failures as a success the NTA should be more brutal about its purpose. Its main aim is to control the harm caused by drug users. It does not have funds to restore them to a normal life. Prospective addicts would then know the Nanny state is not waiting with an open cheque book to reverse their condition.

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  • 8. At 2:05pm on 03 Oct 2008, rtdawson wrote:

    The best part about this report is the ability to link to the original report on the Today programme.
    While factually correct it is so disappointing that Mr Easton has chosen to highlight this problem before the results of the drug treatments outcome report study, DTORS, funded by the home office, become available later this year.
    Putting the evidence of NICE to one side, as he appears to have done, I think any critisism of the journalism is that in admirably trying to raise an awareness of the issue Mr Easton has been a little premature.
    I would also have wanted to know how many patients remain abstinent, say 6 to 12 months, following a rehab based detoxification - that vital information was sadly lacking.
    Perhaps Mr Easton knows better than many others that this treatment modality is the best one?
    While it is true many patients fail to become abstinent or feel the need to remain in treatment it is to the great credit of the service workers, and the patients themselves, that so many lives are able to coninue with a degree of normality and stability.
    Hopefully an opportunity to withdraw from treatment when the patient feels able to do so will arise but the pace should be decided by the patient and their circumstances.
    The work in this field is steadily evolving and hopefully treatment modalities will be altered based on evidence and not anecdote.
    The first step in treatment is actually engaging the patient in a system which, while it may not be ideal, is doing the best it can. Drugs work is very much a partnership with the patient, services, families and the community - I do hope that Mr Easton will join this partnership by continuing his reseach into this field and perhaps contributing more thoughtfully to the solution.

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  • 9. At 2:08pm on 03 Oct 2008, DeirdreBoyd wrote:


    The debate would not be about abstinence versus harm reduction if best practice was used with our taxes - but we are witnessing the fallout from bad practice. Both abstinence and harm reduction options should be offered appropriately, after accurate assessment, using best practice in treatment for the ultimate good of the patient – and, ultimately, their families, employers and society. But placing only 2-4% of patients in rehab is NOT proportionate nor a level playing field.

    Whether patients seek harm reduction or abstinence services, they should be offered appropriate psychosocial support.


    The fact that the Today interviewee – very brave of him – was on methadone for 10 years indicates that he has appeared in the NTA figures every year for a decade; service users at NTA conferences have been on methadone for 25+ years. That means the patients shown in rehab are likely to be different, new people every year, but the methadone-maintenance people could be the same people year in year out, with minimal new people being treated.

    This not an argument against methadone per se: just a plea that the true picture be shown. Measurement tools used by the NTA do not give a picture of how many new patients are being treated.


    Hayes referred to “treatment” without defining what that meant. A prospective patient attending only his/her first, introductory session can be defined by the NTA and its measurement tool as being given “treatment”.

    Similarly, “12 weeks’ retention” in treatment can mean that the patients desperately needing help to address their drug use are referred to the Drug Action Team – who makes them wait 12 weeks for their next appointment. This is called... guess what... 12 weeks’ retention. This is not appropriate, good-practice treatment, whether you define it in harm reduction or abstinence terms.


    Also, the government’s own NTORS research concluded that the most difficult, chronic people were sent to rehab, the ‘easier’ ones to community services. The NTA measurement tool gives no indication of this, even though it is not comparing like for like.

    Also, on the Today programme, Hayes referred every time to “addiction” and “addicts” not misusers. But many, perhaps most, of the patients seeking help are thought to be misusing/abusing drugs rather than being addicted to them. The NTA “measurement tool” does not show this medical differentiation.

    These two different medical conditions require different treatment. If they are not being measured, are they being assessed accurately? Are they being diagnosed correctly? If not, there is no way of measuring that they are getting appropriate treatment.

    Appropriate treatment for the two different conditions – addiction vs misusing – not only means more clinical effectiveness but also greater cost effectiveness.


    NTORS also showed that 40% of the people on the methadone programme became dependent on alcohol, as the core issues were not being addressed. Again, this is about bad practice not whether harm reduction or abstinence is being used.


    Hayes said that methadone was a “gold standard” treatment. This might be in pharmaceutical terms, although subutox and other users would argue this - but it does not apply to therapeutic treatment. Nor did he specify for which type of patient might it be appropriate.

    He added that NICE stated that treatment in the community worked as well as rehab. This directly contradicts the findings of the Audit Commission not too long ago. Also, at the start of this year the CSCI, the government’s Commission for Social Care Inspectorate, officially rated rehabs better than community/Tier 2 services.


    Simply, they have staff and current patients to safeguard. They fear that the Drug Action Teams will stop the few patient referrals they have or, if they have no referrals, that they will never get any. Many have contacted Addiction Today individually but will not speak out until a critical mass does so.

    This uneven commissioning stokes artificial divides between providers, be they proffering harm reduction or abstinence services.

    For the sake of all patients who need help to address their drug using and consequences, and to help their families – let's advocate a measurement tool which will show us the types of patient presenting for treatment (dependent or misusing, other mental-health problems), so there is accountability for accurate assessment. We advocate a measurement tool which will show us the new numbers of people being treated each year. We advocate knowing how many leave treatment drug free – and that includes addiction/misuse of prescribed or over-the-counter drugs. We advocate knowing how many have become cross-addicted to another substance such as alcohol, and thus whether they are being treated for that.

    This does not mean that we cannot support other measures of treatment, such as stability in relationships, reclaiming their families, coming off benefits where appropriate. But let’s get an accurate picture. I want to know that my hard-earned taxes are spent in the best possible way.

    By the way, did the NTA measurement tool go out to tender? If not, why not? How much did it cost? Let’s get one which shows us exactly how our taxes do – or do not – help people. Accountability is a necessity for best practice.

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  • 10. At 2:34pm on 03 Oct 2008, hdjemil wrote:

    Its disturbing to note from the NTA drug treatment activity statistical release:

    (Table 4.6.1a: Number of individual clients who received specific treatment modalities during 2007/08)

    That only 4,306 out of a total 202,666 individuals received Residential Rehabilitation (even with the caveat that there is some under reporting to NDTMS).

    Drug use is not a chronic relapsing condition and in this respect we have been sold a lie. We need a balanced treatment system that identifies those that need help and matches them to treatment that helps them get their lives back on track and that means more than being parked on methadone for years at a time simply because it reduces crime.

    Mark Easton is right to shine a light on the low numbers getting access to residential treatment programmes and I (along with many others working in the drug treatment field) applaud his efforts.

    In order for treatment to be effective drug users have to embrace the challenge of changing their behaviour and confront the possibility that they don't have all the answers. It would be a refreshing change if Paul Hayes embraced the same challenges and possibilities and showed some leadership in this area of policy instead of defending the indefensible.

    Drug users need motivation to change but sadly the current configuration of treatment options often cuts that motivation off at the knees. People with drug use issues also need hope and aspiration to look forward to a life without drugs, to work, to restore family relationships, to do all the things we often take for granted.

    Is it time for a change of direction? I'd say a resounding yes, for the clients, their families and our communities

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  • 11. At 2:43pm on 03 Oct 2008, jon112uk wrote:

    Well done for exposing this and stick to your guns if you continue to be confident your facts are right.

    NTA may claim methadone maintenance as a success - and it may well help many people. But there is a worrying outcome from this - failure to fund services for people who really want to abstain.

    It sounds like services helping people to come off drugs altogether are closing for lack of funds - this can not be a good outcome for anyone.

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  • 12. At 2:44pm on 03 Oct 2008, jayfurneaux wrote:

    You`re absolutely right to focus on outcomes, it`s what really matters. It`s also worth asking how many of those that became drug free on leaving rehab. were still drug free a year afterwards? Do they do any follow up? My guess is that the number will have dropped, many addicts take several attempts at getting clean before doing so.
    One way of looking at your figures means that it costs 68,269 pounds for each drug free outcome; and that`s just 3.6% of those being treated! Otherwise each addict is costing the NHS 2,475 pounds per year for being treated on an indefinite basis. And the number of addicts is growing. Add in the cost of crime, policing, imprisonment and illegal drugs and addiction are costing the taxpayer a small fortune.
    Methadone prescription is often seen as a crime reduction measure, not a health measure. (Comment 2 is correct in that respect.)
    Addicts often undertake it to try and avoid constant prison sentences for theft, non payment of fines etc. I will admit that at this stage many addicts are only `thinking` about giving up drugs completely; addiction has a powerful grip.

    There is a sizable catch 22 in being admitted to residential rehab`s: to get drug free you first have to be deemed drug free.
    I would argue that for most they then have to be relocated away from the city they were addicts in and given sustained support from social workers etc to help them remain drug free. They will have low life skills, debts and prison records; building a new life is another mountain to climb. I`ve known addicts fall back into drug use after residential rehab, simply because they were rehoused back into areas with high drug use and given little support.

    The main focus of drug agencies is getting heroin addicts onto Methadone programs. This is often referred to as `community rehabilitation`. Some addicts are assessed as needing lifetime maintenance, in other words agencies seem to give up on getting them drug free and are prepared to prescribe Methadone for life. There are major disadvantages to the community approach, largely that the community the addicts live in is a major part of their problem. The idea is that addicts slowly reduce their Methadone intake until they can do their detox (rattle) and go onto another opiate substitute; Subutex (Buprenorphin) tablets is the main one. At this point they are deemed able to enter a residential rehab if: a) they want to and b) a place can be found and funded.

    However most heroin users are multi drug users; crack and weed will often be used too, possibly with tranquillisers also etc. There are no `chemical cures` for crack or weed; it takes real determination to change a life; remaining in a life surrounded by other users and dealers is the major obstacle.
    Addicts are mainly truly broken people from badly chaotic and abusive families and deprived backgrounds. Drugs often were their way of escaping their problems, pure will power (and a picture of what a normal life may be) are difficult for them to find. Many relapse while on methadone programs, drug agencies can stop scripts if they want (often it seems as a punishment) and the addict goes back down to square one, before being readmitted to the program. The approach of individual drug workers and doctors can vary greatly; at times it can appear capricious.

    Rehabs are mainly run by the charity and commercial sectors, not the NHS. There are surprisingly few, they vary greatly in approach and quality. (Some are excellent.) Some rehabs have a Christian emphasis, which is off putting to those without faith. 12 step (belief based) programs are popular, yet more recently developed cognitive approaches may be more effective. Have any studies been undertaken to compare these? The public gets a false picture from celebs of how easy it is to get into rehabs, but celebs PAY to get instant access. The famous centres can charge many thousands of pounds a week, which may also explain why some celebs leave after only a few weeks.

    Keep revisiting the drug issue Mark, it`s not going away and the number of addicts is growing and so is the corrosive sub culture based around drugs, crime, gangsters and so on. In many ways wider society still can`t decide if this is primarily a health or a crime issue? There isn`t a joined up drugs policy.

    PS: Andrew could ask for sugar free Methadone, its the sugar (sweetener) that rots teeth.
    PPS. I`m a former voluntary drug worker.

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  • 13. At 2:53pm on 03 Oct 2008, unhappydad wrote:

    1 a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium.

    This is the dictionary's interpretation of insurance. The next time I walk into my Chemist I'll ask for a claim form. Don't you just know that the look on the face will say it all.

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  • 14. At 3:08pm on 03 Oct 2008, ashrobins wrote:

    quote=Mark Easton When I first pointed out the very small proportion of users who left England's treatment programme drug free on the BBC Today programme last year, in the words of one academic in the field, it set off a small nuclear explosion in the drugs world. /quote

    Really? I'll have to take your word for it Mark, I was too busy dealing with people with drug problems to notice the blast.

    How many people enter drug treatment with abstinence in mind? I'm not talking about the ones who believe, because of media and govt promotion, that drug treatment=abstinence and therefore they should never mention anything else when asked by their drugs worker.

    Methadone also doesn't put people on the road to abstinence, if it does what it is meant to it merely swaps the street drugs for a pharmaceutical one.

    Nor is rehab the door to a drug-free life. It is a place that is promoted as such, again by the media and govt but it is just another intervention. One that works for only a small minority of people.

    The way to move away from problematic drug use is to move towards a place where one has something to lose, a life in other words. A job, stable relationships, friends, interests etc.

    But that's all the harder whilst the media and the govt portrays drug users as weak-minded, feeble, dishonest and lazy. Treating people with a drug problem involves the whole community, not just a rehab in some far off town or some vile concotion dished out daily.

    How about you talk to some drugs workers Mark, we deal with people like the person you wheeled out, every day. We could tell you the real story and it actually would be something to get your knickers in a twist, unlike your abstinence non-story. Still, there might be an award down that path, eh Mark?

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  • 15. At 4:17pm on 03 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    The problem is not the problem but the people who administer the supposed solutions. My institute tried for 3-years without success with the Home Office to get them to accept an invitation from the Vietnam Government to trial their heroin and cocaine treatment which detoxifies in a humane way in just 48 hrs. Even though David Blunkett was involved, the pleas went nowhere and the Home Office refused even to undertake a mere trial. The cost, £200,000 but where thousands of lives thereafter would have been saved and millions who live in drug addicted families, would have had a success story to tell of. In Vietnam this cure is under the control of the Government and where not just over 20,000 hard drug addicts have been cured but also many westerners who were introduced to the communist country through political connections. Some are leading lights, known well and where their daughter or son had become incurable addicts. Indeed, not a great deal is known of this herbal cure (note herbal and therefore not like methadone which is highly addictive, even more so than heroin).

    Yesterday I sent an email to Paul Hayes, head of NTA (National Treatment Agency), and where one of his colleagues, a Mr. Hugo Luck replied (copy sent to all readers who are interested). In essence they were not interested like the Home Office and where they would prefer to continue with what they had got – basically unacceptable failure. Indeed, this means in my common sense understanding that they are living in a parallel universe where failure equates to success. We have seen much of this in the past few weeks with the bankers but where it pervades all areas I am now convinced of Whitehall and their agencies. Indeed, to equate a 3.6% reduction whilst 96.4% are still addicts is a failure on a colossal scale and where if it were in any other area of endeavour the whole of the management board would have by now been sacked.

    Overall, there is a cure out there, humane, extremely low cost and totally effective. The problem is that those who are empowered to reduce the problem just do not want to know. A sad world that we live in and where I now believe that vested interests both within industry and government, who appear to be hand in glove here, are the main cause of the problem and not those who are trying desperately to get off hard drugs.
    In this respect NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) has a great deal to answer for also as they do nothing to change the system and only increase and perpetuate the dire problem. How, I therefore plead for the people of this dear country, do we get them to listen? For they will not !

    Dr David Hill (British resident)
    World Innovation Foundation Charity (WIFC)
    Bern, Switzerland

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  • 16. At 4:19pm on 03 Oct 2008, threnodio wrote:

    #14 - ashrobins

    I will bow to your evident knowledge of something I know little about. However, on the general principle of the use of statistics.

    When we have reached the point where statistics are published and then conclusions which are drawn from them are immediately rubbished by the very organisation that published them, they might as well give up altogether. I am sure your views are absolutely valid but that does not justify the media manipulation. Mark Easton was perfectly entitled to extrapolate his conclusions from the data and NTA's reaction is indefensible.

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  • 17. At 4:50pm on 03 Oct 2008, TIMETOCHANGETODAY wrote:

    Firstly harm minimisation and residential rehab both have an important part to play. More communication is now taking place, including sharing of best practises to give the addict the best possible chance of leading a better life.
    The NTA have in my opinion got a lot to answer for and Mark is right in highlighting this.
    Proven facts speak volumes
    in a recent survey of one residential rehab over 450 people who were in recovery responded.
    66 were more than 20 years in recovery,
    95 were between 10 and 20 years in recovery 189 were between 1 and 10 years
    100 were under 1 year
    survey size to include all patients was 2200, which maths is not the best means 20% of the total survey, so even if all the survey participants weren't in recovery shows the first measure of success.
    Of those who responded and had relapsed 83 by the way, only 11 reoffended, again that is 13%.
    Perhaps the NTA should invest money in research of this nature or will it not give them the answer they want ?

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  • 18. At 5:26pm on 03 Oct 2008, NTAofficial wrote:

    Claims that “only” 3.6 per cent of drug users leave treatment ‘drug-free’ are misleading.

    It is like measuring the proportion of GCSE-course students in a school achieving A grades against the whole school population, the majority of whom are still being educated in the school. Or, it is like measuring the proportion of a hospital’s successful operations in a day at lunchtime, while afternoon surgery has yet to take place.

    Here’s the maths:

    Of the record 202,600 people in drug treatment last year, 69,612 individuals were discharged. Of these over 35,000 (more than half) successfully completed treatment having overcome their addiction. Although the two thirds remaining in treatment at the end of the year cannot be counted as having either ‘completed’ or ‘failed’ treatment – like all the students yet to take their GCSEs and all the surgeries still to happen in the afternoon – they will nevertheless benefit. Whilst in treatment their drug use and offending will fall dramatically and their health and ability to function effectively as citizens will improve.

    Overall, 170,000 of all those in treatment either successfully completed or were stabilised in treatment, an 85 per cent success rate.

    Overcoming dependency is not easy. That is why drug addiction is given the medical definition of a chronic relapsing condition. It can take years to overcome successfully – typically between four and seven – and a number of attempts at treatment. But, individuals and the community benefit from people being stabilised in treatment, and not just when people complete it successfully.

    Paul Hayes
    NTA chief executive

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  • 19. At 5:33pm on 03 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Welcome to my world Mark.
    As a person that stands up for change in communitys and listens to the problems of these people you soon begin to realise that its a growing problem, a medical problem not a criminal one. People despite all the messages will use drugs and become addicted. Once addicted then the type of drug wont matter as long as its strong enough to take away the symptons of drug addiction so eventualy heroin becomes the drug of choice. The rise of the import of illegal heroin year on year shows this clearly, the information that customs have on the house of commons web site shows this.

    The answer to this is methadone and a long very unstable existance. Is drug addiction not a serious medical problem? Imagine if it took this long to stabalize a mental health patient and restore the balance of life to both themselves and the communitys about them. There would be total outrage. I know its unfair to use mental health as an example but its affects are as volatile on those around if untreated.

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  • 20. At 5:49pm on 03 Oct 2008, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    if the people who are charged with 'fixing' these people cant why are they still doing it? the tax payer must waste billions each year on the war on drugs. anyone know how much money is spent on treatment education policing etc?

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  • 21. At 7:27pm on 03 Oct 2008, Soddball wrote:

    I agree absolutely with Mark on his interpretation of the figures. The aim should be to get addicts clean, rehabilitated and back in to society. If the government defines success the way it does, is there any wonder the drugs war is lost?

    Some decent journalism there, Mark, and you may rest assured we welcome it.

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  • 22. At 7:38pm on 03 Oct 2008, DeirdreBoyd wrote:

    Dear Paul,

    I would love to believe your claims, and know that you/the NTA is not divorced from the reality of drug users' experience.
    I would love to know that "curing" people actually helped your numbers rather than making it difficult for you to meet targets for numbers in treatment and retention.
    I would love to be reassured that there is no dominance of a medical model based on a patronising view of clients, a view dominated by acute interventions.

    "Over 35,000 (more than half) successfully completed treatment having overcome their addiction." Please define this.
    How many of these were addicts or merely misusing drugs?
    Please explain where this is shown in the figures or where it is measured on NTA/TOP measurement forms.
    How do you define overcoming addiction? Please be specific. To claim it so quickly after 'treatment' seems such a short followup period.
    How do you follow up these people so that you can make the claim? I'd love to know. It would be great to have good news.
    Or is this based on TOP? This 'validating' paper measures only reliability of crime - ie consistency of self-report, not validity. And what stigmatised client wants to report continuing to offend?
    "Two thirds remain in treatment". How many have been there 1 year? How many 2 years? How many 3 years?... How many 11 years? Please define treatment. Are they the same people there at the start of the year? Do/can you measure this?
    WOW! An 85% success rate. Please lay this out in detail. What is success? Have you done a survey of user satisfaction? What outside independent body has audited this? I'd love some good news.
    I'd love you to disprove in detail the stories of how some people get only one meeting and it is called a treatment episode.
    I'd love you to disprove the anecdotes about people having to wait 12 weeks for a 2nd appointment and having that called 12 weeks retention. Or people being hauled to prison midway and staying on the books as rdtained. We get five calls a day to the charity from people desperate to get help, people waiting months, the saddest being the partners of young men who tried to commit suicide because they could not get treatment, followed by "I use with him, wanted to get clea with him, finally cut my wrists last week"...
    What about the places who refuse to take people until they have detoxed - the very reason they need to get in, in the first place?
    Please show us how you assess people with mental-health problems, and how they are treated, with numbers.
    Please show us the figures which break down how the most difficult, chronic complicated clients are sent to rehab but the 'easier' cases are on other organisations' outcomes - it follows that good outcomes will be harder to achieve, but I see no indication of the different assessments in your results. I would LOVE you to disprove me and show that good practice is prevalent.
    I would love not to believe the stories about DAT commissioners (with a few worthy exceptions) scornfully dismissing - and that's putting it politely - people who work in abstinence-based treatment centres.
    Please make an optimist of me. Please show the detailed, independently audited proof.

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  • 23. At 7:45pm on 03 Oct 2008, DeirdreBoyd wrote:

    Further note to Paul Hayes:
    It would be wonderful to be reassured also that the following is not a cynical exercise to blur figures:
    your spending of my taxes on full-colour leaflets promoting a redefinition of "recovery" as "control over substance use" - ie removing the words "drug-free" or "sobriety", as they have been used by millions of people in AA, NA and other self-help groups for over half a century.

    There is obviously a good reason that you would do this - after all, the UKDPC has been given over a £1million and thinks it worthwhile - so it would be great to hear an enlightening view of why the goal of becoming drug free has been removed.

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  • 24. At 8:02pm on 03 Oct 2008, TIMETOCHANGETODAY wrote:


    Very simple answer to this one please

    35,000 completed having overcome their addiction ?

    How many still clean after 6 months
    How many still clean after 12 months
    How many still clean after 3 years and so on

    If you cannot supply these simple figures to back up your claim of 35,000 overcoming their addiciton, does not really mean anything does it, just more of the same rubbish

    Why not work with the field instead of against it and work closer with the people in harm min and rehab who really know what is going on, because we are all more than happy to help

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  • 25. At 8:27pm on 03 Oct 2008, ReformNotRevolution wrote:

    Legalise or prohibite - I could see both sides, both provide valid arguments. Either way I couldn't care less because I'm not an addict. What they do to themselves is their choice. But I cannot understand why we tolerate treir crimes only because they have this addiction, it's not an excuse! Want to help them with my money? Fine, but only after they give up using drugs. Otherwise it's just a waste.

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  • 26. At 9:00pm on 03 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    Glad to see that Paul Hayes has had the decency to add his comments.

    Can you tell me Mr. Hayes why you will not look at other hard drug treatment alternatives such as the Vietnamese cure which is very cheap to administer and not highly addictive like methadone? Dr. Lutz Baehr the operations director of the WIFC, (who was Kofi Annan's international coordinator, former UN director for the centre of science and technology in development, Executive Director of the African Development Bank, chairman of the UN's disciplinary committee and a German senior civil servant/aide to a Federal Minister) has just got back from meetings with the Prime Minister of Vietnam and his chief adviser (another US citizen). Would you be willing to enter into formal discussions with the Vietnamese government with regard to undertaking trials? They will provide the expertise if you would welcome to our shores.

    Lets just see where you mouth is on this and if you have any intention at changing the ways of NTA? I think that the British people need to know where you stand as they are your ultimate paymaster, not the UK government.

    Dr David Hill (British resident)
    Executive Director
    World Innovation Foundation Charity (WIFC)
    Bern, Switzerland

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  • 27. At 10:34pm on 03 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    But I cannot understand why we tolerate treir crimes only because they have this addiction, it's not an excuse!

    No its not but its the fact that the only place they can get it is through illegal means through heavy cutting of the drugs the price of addiction has risen.

    Considering that right now we protect the opium trade in afgan shurly somthing more humain than methadone can be offered to treat this problem. Also within this which is cheaper to produce in the long run and which will have least cost to the NHS and tax payer. Clean withdrawals through heroin or a new addiction to methadone and a possable life long addiction to it as its much harder for the body to give up. Not to mention the cost to the communitys and justice systems in crime when the addict relapses through social presure from the only people who whill know him/her.

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  • 28. At 10:57pm on 03 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 29. At 05:06am on 04 Oct 2008, kickedoutof chatroomsoonestchamp2006 wrote:

    I attended an interview for a position in an inner-city NHS community drug treatment agency recently. I was advised that I'd have a case load of about 51 and that it was 'strictly maintenance only' (i.e. methadone or bupenorphine). Also the job turned out to be 'band 5' (the lowest grade for a trained psychiatric nurse in the NHS).
    My experience has been in residential and community intensive abstinence based rehab programmes (private and voluntary sectors) that really work and I had no hesitation in turning down the offer of the job.
    The reality is that NHS agencies are under resourced and overwhelmed. It is not unknown for success to be met with violence and intimidation from the dealers who lose out. 'Maintenance' is not treatment as I would like to define it and it is time that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence conducted a review with the criteria applied to Aricept and alzheimers.
    Thank you, Mr Easton, for opening this subject up for debate.

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  • 30. At 05:40am on 04 Oct 2008, kickedoutof chatroomsoonestchamp2006 wrote:

    "Ashrobins" response to Mr Easton's blog is a good example of what is wrong with current drug treatment policy. Hands up all you taxpayers who want to fund treatment for addicts or users who don't want to become abstinent.
    She/he seeks to absolve drug users from responsibility for their behaviour and works in conflict with the principles of successful rehabilitation programmes. It is in many ways typical of the fatalism that plauges NHS 'treatment.'

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  • 31. At 10:11pm on 04 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    Dear Sirs,

    As it has been 24 hours since I sent two replies (the latter really asking why my first comment had been refused). Can you please inform why you have still not posted my further comment. I have looked at your reasons for not doing so and list below. I cannot see how I have broken your 'rules' as detailed on your website and where according to what you say I have not received an email either to tell me why.

    Dr David Hill

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  • 32. At 10:46pm on 04 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Davidstuarthill your going through some bad withdrawal's there :).

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  • 33. At 00:05am on 05 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    Community Criminal

    I'm not, but plenty of people are through stale non-reducing, near non-existent government mechanisms for hard drug treatment. Until the media make a stance about this crime, including the BBC, things will stay the same.


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  • 34. At 11:01am on 05 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    So true David I have the same problems here in voiceing a true opinion of the current failure of the drugs program in the UK. As herbman i wasn't allowed to express my use of cannabis as a Christian and the direct affects of drugs on communitys. Ive lost family to heroin so I am one of the few people who have a true understaning of the abuse these people go through in order to try and live a life bound over in chemical slavery.

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  • 35. At 11:30am on 05 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Watched this very very scary program last night.
    Afghan Heroin: The Lost War
    if you missed it it is available for download, or maybe the BBC could get it and show it before the watershed so our youth can see how hopeless it realy is.

    before we invaded afgan the penalty for growing poppies was death the talaban killed anyone growing this foul crop now they have made it a tool of jihad. now we have unleashed afgan heroin on a major scale 90% of world heroin comes from there.

    Hats of to the Netherlands on there treatment of addicts.

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  • 36. At 1:28pm on 05 Oct 2008, domlingus wrote:

    Mark Easton has done this country a service by exposing not only the gross inefficiency of the NTA, but the lengths they are prepared to go to cover it up.

    There is nothing wrong with harm reduction methods for those who have yet to become dependent on drugs as stipulated in the clinical criteria in both DSM-1V and ICD-10. However since one the significant criterion in either of those includes the inability to control use, it is paradoxical and simply does not work for those who have developed addiction.

    'hdjemil' states that drug use is not a chronic relapsing condition, and suggests that we have been sold that view as a lie. I would point out to her that the phrase 'chronic relapsing condition is used clinically in respect of Drug Dependence, or as it used to be more accurately described, addiction. Further it is an irreversible condition which can however be successfully put into sustainable and lasting remission as millions of people around the world have shown. However that can only be achieved through abstinence focused treatment as a precursor to recovery. Sadly the NTA do not appear capable, or are unwilling, of understanding the difference between treatment and recovery, or abstinence and sobriety; as such they are unfit for purpose.

    They now appear to be in the process of attempting to hide their shortcomings by redefining that of which they have little or no knowledge or experience; 'recovery'. The latter has been defined by the highly acclaimed Betty Ford Institute as

    ‘A voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterised by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship’.
    The same document defines sobriety as’ abstinence from alcohol and all other non prescribed drugs , together with the rider, ‘This criterion is considered to be primary and necessary for a recovery lifestyle. Evidence indicates that for formerly dependent individuals, sobriety is most reliably achieved through the practice of abstinence from alcohol and all other drugs of abuse.’
    The NTA insist that their strategies are evidence based whilst failing to point out that it is also highly selective and confined to harm reduction hypotheses; it is therefore not surprising they have chosen to ignore the evidence and views of the world renowned drug addiction experts who served on the committee who evolved the above. Instead, in seeming desperation to cover up their gross failure to serve the needs and wishes of the vast majority of those who wish to become drug free, they opted at taxpayer’s expense to showcase at their recent annual conference the following definition coined by the charitably funded, self appointed United Kingdom Drug Policy Commission. (UKDPC)

    ‘The process of recovery from problematic substance use is characterised by voluntarily-sustained control over substance use which maximises health and wellbeing and participation in the rights, roles and responsibilities of society.’

    Apart from the fact that there is no universal definition of ‘problematic substance use’ and the fact that the UKDPC has declined to define what it means by that phrase, this writer suggests that such a definition condones and endorses ongoing use, rather than recovery, abstinence or sobriety for those who are addicted. In doing so it ignores the scientific evidence which clearly shows that the ongoing use of drugs by the addicted increases the severity of the addiction.

    In conclusion the failure of the NTA to encourage and develop abstinence focused treatment in preference to its obsession with substitute drugs has not only failed to serve the needs and wishes of its service users, it has according to the independent ‘Cochrane Review’, failed to have any ‘significant impact’ on drug related crime. As such it has also failed society.

    NB full references in support of the evidence and statements made can be found on click on ‘Reducing Drug Use’

    Peter O’Loughlin

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  • 37. At 6:38pm on 05 Oct 2008, jimajones wrote:

    As an experienced professional working in the field I really feel depressed about the amount of ignorant rubbish being spouted. Individual give views based on single cases, make dogmatic assumptions about the nature of addiction etc etc and have the same space to say their piece as someone in possession of objective information and experience in trying to get things right, despite the actions of those they are trying so hard to help.

    Complaining about 'no-one helping' is the exact parallel as the obese person complaining that 'none of the diets work'. Telling them to eat less and exercise more is absolutely correct, so why don't they just do it?

    Detox and rehab is obviously what is needed in just the same way for addicts, so why don't they just do it? Because it just isn't that simple.

    Services are not perfect, but they try to work with extremely complex issues. And we who work in them know that making someone detox and go to rehab who is not ready, puts them at greater risk of dying; usually from an accidental overdose, sometimes suicide from their sense of 'failure' to do what was actually impossible at that time. (But then again, they are only junkies aren't they?).

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  • 38. At 7:16pm on 05 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    (But then again, they are only junkies aren't they?).

    At times they are when left untreated criminalised and given up on. The rest of the time when they are treated like human beings with a life destroying illness they are addicts. Its funny (well its not realy funny) how we see people. WE have 2 rehabs at the bottom of our road cater to around 30 addicts. We are also the 3rd most deprived area in wirral, very high cocaine use rapidly growing heroin use, crack tried to take hold but after a lot of calls to the police and crimestoppers with reg plates etc we got control of it... or maybe it just moved out of sight again. What chance have people got when the rehab's/safehoues are in an area over run with drugs. What yourself and others can do in the meen time is good the services are underfunded controled by people with half a clue but to disconected from the problem to actualy put into place long term affective routes that will guide these people out of the chemical slavery they are bound into. Its how we treat it all that counts is being a drug addict medical or criminal. People dont understand what the physical alteration is to the body so they will never have an understanding and just see them as social outcasts and failuers.

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  • 39. At 11:18am on 06 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    Community Criminal

    You clearly understand the situation.

    I have seen personally and been with families who suffer this nightmare and where there only wish is for their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers and grandparents be cured of this terrible addiction. It crucifies the whole family system, breaks it up and causes far more harm than the British government really understands. That is why we cannot comprehend the Home Office and NTA's stance that they will not even investigate the Vietnamese cure based upon a herbal remedy (not a continual addictive treatment such as Methadone)? It basically beggars belief with the problem being so rampant and increasing year-on-year. Indeed with an overall cost to the nation through crime et al of £40 billion at least, it should be of paramount concern to the British government to cut crime and medication costs. It is also very cheap to administer and is now produced by the Vietnamese government under laboratory sterile conditions in capsule form. In just 48 hours of taking these non-addictive capsules, the patient is completely detoxified with no 'cold turkey' through the process or side effects. According to the government of Vietnam there has not been any fatalities directly attributed to the treatment and where the treatment is 100% safe according to them. Let us hope therefore that a Conservative government will be more open to modern cures for modern times/problems unlike methadone, which perpetuates the addict in addiction forever and of course a treatment brought to prominence by Hitler and his NAZI regime.

    Yes, you are also right about the powers that try to hide the situation from the British people. Basically this is due to their total inadequacies in finding a curative treatment strategy. They simply would like the whole thing to be completely covered up and only when people like Mark Easton exposes the situation, do the people in this country realize the enormity of the problem and the government's total failure. What gets me is though, how little the media give to this huge problem when it is exposed. In this respect except for the BBC and the Times, there is little other news on Mark Easton's exposure. Sad really when one considers the millions that are now indirectly affected by this no.1 scourge of society. This is also so strange as the government are so against undertaking trials of the Vietnamese cure. There must be hidden reasons for this which can only be economic/financial interests of all thoise involved, as again outlined in Mark Easton's exposé.

    Can you please tell me as an experienced professional working in the field, why the present system does not wish to know about treatments that although not known in the West, do work? What is the rationale behind this stupid stance? The complex issue is firstly having a cure I would say, so do you think that this should be the top priority of government? If not, why?

    I see that Paul Hayes, head of the National Treatment Agency, hasn't had the courage as yet and probably will not, to reply to the previous post concerning why his government organization will not entertain the Vietnamese cure. Very strange indeed?

    Dr David Hill
    World Innovation Foundation Charity (WIFC)
    Bern, Switzerland

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  • 40. At 1:49pm on 06 Oct 2008, the-real-truth wrote:

    If addicts are 'cured' then the drug workers are out of a job.

    Dishing out Methodone means they have a job for life.

    As a tax payer, instead of being robbed by addicts to pay for drugs, I am robbed by the government to pay for drugs, drug workers, administrators, etc etc etc.

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  • 41. At 3:32pm on 06 Oct 2008, jimajones wrote:

    Dr Hill
    What works is what passess the stringent tests required before any treatment is used in the NHS, funded by tax payer's money. That is what adequate research, using proven methodologies does. The international pharmaceutical companies woud beat a path to the door of anyone who had such a product.

    Methadone and subutex passess this standard for medication. Methadone is very cheap and is made by many companies so competition on price is intense. Subutex has just come out of its patent period, so it is not going to make big profits now. The fact that no other prescribed treatment, Vietnamese or otherwise, it being developed indicates that there is not one in existence that would withstand proper scrutiny. Perhaps the is something for your Open Research Institute to gets its teeth into?

    And 'treatment' encompassess far more the medication, the NTA knows this and is promoting a wide range of interventions for which there is evidence. The key to effectiveness is the clear and sustained motivation of the person who wants to change, but sadly there is no tablet that can create that in an indvidual.

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  • 42. At 3:35pm on 06 Oct 2008, jayfurneaux wrote:

    The claimed Vietnam cure (Heantos) is a touch controversial, those that claim to know about it become a little hazy when pressed for exact details of what it contains and fall back on saying that its based on Oriental medicine that the West doesn’t understand and so on.
    There`s an article with representatives from both sides here.

    There are also other new approaches including a Scottish neuro-electric therapy that is also claimed to be effective. Again there are claims this is being blocked in favour of Methadone.

    There`s also the Thai Buddhist Tham Krabok monasteries purge and meditate treatment.,7178,0,0,1,0

    There’s also another drug treatment that`s used illegally to detox in the UK (C4 did a documentary on this) but I can’t remember the name.

    There have also been a few past claimed cures that have turned out to be money making scams. Others have just turned out just to other ways of getting an addict through their physical detox, often using sedation, which is already in use in detox centres.

    I`m agnostic on the above new approaches, I only know what I’ve read, but agree that claimed new treatments should be investigated to see if their claims stand up. But I`ll also make the point that drug and alcohol addicts only give up completely when they really, really want to stay clean (and are supported). There is no miracle cure.

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  • 43. At 4:48pm on 06 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:


    The pharmaceutical companies are fully aware of the cure but the 'communist' Vietnamese government will not allow capitalism to gets its dirty hands on the cure (as all that it would do is line the pockets of the big players with billions and the developing world would get hardly anything). I think the current financial crisis says a lot about capitalism in this respect and where no one really benefits other than the very few. So what have they done (the pharmaceutical companies) , they have behind closed doors tried to stop it. This I now believe through their immense political and economic power has travelled to government through the Home office and agencies such as NTA. Therefore only if they could get their hands on it, but where through a communist/socialist ideology they cannot. That is why you do not hear anything about this cure because the large drug companies are frightened of the ramifications - it would hit the bottom-line hard. Only when a government such as Vietnam takes a stance are the drug companies compromised. I believe that you may be a bit naive here when it comes to political mindsets. We are fully aware of the regulators et al and what is required, but first you have to have an interest where presently there is none in government or their agencies. On a last point you do not appear to believe either it seems in cartels and where these vast corporations do get together and talk to each other. If they did not, Methadone ( a horrible medication) would be far cheaper. These people do nothing but for themselves I can assure you.

    What you say is spot-on and that's the big problem, too many vested interests even though they know the outcome is negative in 96.4% of the time according to Mark Heaton's article.

    Every time people quote 1997 information. It apperas that you are no different. The treatment has moved on tremendously since 1997 (some eleven years ago). Then is was still a treatment not accepted but where now it is used throughout the Vietnamese health system. Germany has been undertaking successful trials for eight years now to confirm that it works.

    The problem is as I have stated above, the Vietnamese government just do not want the West to have the cure as the big drug companies will swallow it up and then all (including the Vietnamese) will be paying 1000 times for the medication. Therefore they are very skeptical towards the pharmaceutical companies who would be the major benefactors, not the people. The holding to ransom situation that capitalism propagates.
    This is the only treatment that cures so you can forget about the ones that you respectfully cite. They will be around for a long time but will not cure on a widespread basis I can tell you now. I should also ask you to try being a heroin addict unless you have seen for many years at first hand how they try their hardest to get off. It is a pitiful sight and you would then realize it was not really in their own hands. The problem will only get far worse in the years ahead and crime will increase markedly due to what the future holds economically and development wise for us all. Therefore only if the powers that be would just trial the cure under the approval of the Vietnamese government. Hopefully when we have reached officially 500,000 in treatment they may start to listen, but by then, crime and costs will have literally gone through the roof and the Vietnamese may very well not then wish to know.


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  • 44. At 4:59pm on 06 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:


    I forgot to mention that Professor Donald R. Jasinski, MD, Chief of the Center for Chemical Dependency, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center at John Hopkins University in the States that you cite is one of our Fellows and he will confirm that the Vietnamese have moved considerably in the last 11-years since your cited article and would most probably say that it is a cure or the nearest anyone has got to date. It is also the skeptics that hold things back and where it appears that the UK government and their agencies welcome these skeptics for their own reasons. Therefore I would refute your claim that there is no miracle cure and say that there is and put my professional reputation on the line here! For i have seen the cure at work and where you have not. A big difference I would respectfully say.


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  • 45. At 5:48pm on 06 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    maybe the fair way to look at this is to gather the total deaths from overdose and methadone related overdose and compare them with the treatment david talks about.
    I would wager that the deaths from overdose with recovering or managed addicts outnumbers deaths from this new drug in the same time frames. Also remember that every time an addict injects they risk death, russian roulet with a warm gun. Ive had a look for methadone overdose figures but can't find any...

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  • 46. At 6:04pm on 06 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:


    Good point ! The information as I have already said previously from the Government of Vietnam, is that no deaths have been attributed directly to the Vietnamese treatment. There has been only one case where it was thought at the time that the treatment had caused the death of a Vietnamese hard drug addict but where after a thorough investigation by their health service, it was found that the addict in question, had died from an overdose and where the treatment could not have had anything to do with it. In this respect he had just started and was awaiting treatment. So nothing had been administered prior to his death. Overdose like in the UK is relatively common in Vietnam unfortunately.

    I believe Methadone and the system (and outside the system) presently will have caused hundreds if not thousands of deaths through overdose. As CommunityCriminal asks, has anyone the official or unofficial figures? I think that it is relevant but where government agencies may again differ here !


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  • 47. At 7:53pm on 06 Oct 2008, jayfurneaux wrote:

    Hi David, I did try and email you [Personal details removed by Moderator] on Saturday asking for more info on Heantos but didn`t receive a reply. Heantos is new to me. I couldn`t find much else on it other than late 1990`s articles; I also chose that article because it gave two sides to the story. If you can post more recent links please do so. I couldn`t find anything using Google for: Donald Jasinski + Heantos, but he does seem to have played a major part in developing buprenorphine and subutex. I did also put that `I agree that claimed new treatments should be investigated to see if their claims stand up.` You yourself admit that the Vietnamese govt is holding onto this treatment (I understand they`ve have applied for patents etc) so it`s not going to be immediately available. We have different backgrounds. Mine was helping with support and education work with drug users in a northern city. I got into it this after supporting a friend who`d become heavily addicted to heroin, crack, weed etc finally get clean after 14 yrs addiction; it took her six years from when she entered methadone treatment. My experience is that reducing Methadone, detoxing followed by rehab can work; but a lot, lot more in the way of support is needed both before and after. Many addicts on Methadone haven`t decided to become clean; they simply see it as a way of not having to fund a daily heroin habit and the crime and frequent imprisonment that goes with it. I`ve also met some that freely admit they`d prefer to spend their money on crack, alcohol and other drugs. Getting to the stage of wanting to get totally drug free is completely another step for them. But it’s a long hard road. It may be different approaches work for different people. Ibogaine is the name of the other drug claimed to help cure dependency I couldn`t remember above. I chose this article because, again, it gives both pros and cons. I think the reasons for addiction are more complex than just brain chemistry. Be interesting to see what effect, if any, Heantos (and other approaches) would have on addicts that didn`t want to get clean? I`m not convinced that a magic bullet exists. But agitate for trials by all means.

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  • 48. At 8:43pm on 06 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    is this the other you were talking about Jay

    Heantos sounds like the same sort of thing

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  • 49. At 8:53pm on 06 Oct 2008, MikMorris wrote:

    It's always down to statistics. Not to long ago 40% of cannabis smokers were likely to suffer with psychotic episodes and/or schizophrenia.

    This was based on, at best, dubious evidence and was in fact 40% of the 1% of the population who suffer with severe mental disorders. The only way to help a heroin addict is to treat them with heroin. Questionable, but true. Only by cutting their dosage over time will an addict gain his or her place in the world again. Methadone is a replacement not a cure. To counter all the crap we hear from the government and the media regarding drugs we must legalise. Take away the stigma and move on.

    Nik Morris, Wales.

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  • 50. At 10:33pm on 06 Oct 2008, jayfurneaux wrote:

    is this the other you were talking about Jay

    ibogaine, that’s it. This article also covers it.

    I`m not convinced that addiction is a simple matter of adjusting brain chemistry. There seem to be several ways of getting people though the final physical detox stage (and addicts are genuinely scared of it, it`s not pleasant) but the root causes of addiction are complex. Two of the biggest causes of relapse are stress and boredom. Strategies for coping with these have to be addressed.

    I`ll shut up now.

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  • 51. At 3:15pm on 07 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    If you had been able to see what I saw in Hanoi and the Vietnamese rehabilitation camps over a two week period in 2003, you would without doubt be saying that there is a magic bullet. This is why we just wish the UK government to trial the Vietnamese treatment. A little request for so much good and where we do this not for financial gain (as the large pharmaceutical companies do), but on purely humanitarian grounds. But unfortunately also as we now know through Mark Easton’s exposé, the government is now resided to a stabilization process and not a cure. Paul Hayes admitted this and where the problem will just simply grow and grow over the years ahead. There is little information on Heantos, as the Communist regime does not want it falling into the hands of the big pharmaceutical companies. They are possibly one of the last standing bastions of socialism in the world today (but a rampant economy unlike our own presently) and where the people’s interests are supreme. Although, with the present global crisis brought about by capitalism, new economic models will have to be engineered on more social foundations and not for the benefit of the few.
    The only information that I can give is that only through direct contact with senior Vietnamese government officials can anyone other than the Vietnamese undertake the treatment. All that have been able to undertake this treatment have come home cured (mostly from the USA).

    Donald Jasinski is most probably the world’s leading expert in drugs to combat hard drug addition. Indeed, he is affectionately know in the States due to his eminence in the subject as, ‘the pope of the dope’.
    If you go to John Hopkins University website and search under his name you will find him. He is a first-class scientist and a great humanitarian who was introduced to my Foundation by Lutz Baehr, the UN’s former international coordinator for the Vietnamese treatment/cure project. Indeed, Kofi Annan once said to Lutz that if it had not been for traditional medicines, he would most probably have not been here now.

    Your background gives you far more experience to comment. I can see that.

    The problem with weaning off on Methadone, it is a very, very long and laborious process that takes years to achieve if at all (as all the evidence is that only a few manage to do this through methadone because of ‘cold turkey’). Therefore it is highly costly to the government. In difference the Vietnamese treatment is fast, effective and cost a mere fraction of the current rehabilitation costs, taking fully into account the difference in currency values.

    Yes I agree again, that keeping off hard drugs even if you kick the habit, is in the West a hard task. But where again, with the Vietnamese treatment, if there is a relapse, it is a relatively simple matter to get them off again. That is what interested the UN so much in the first place, as it was found that Vietnamese hill farmers could come off and on hard drugs at will and the UN wanted to know what it was that made this possible.

    The Ibogaine treatment that you cite is a completely different substance. The Vietnamese capsules comprise of thirteen plant extracts now produced in laboratory conditions and standardisation.

    As you are aware it is the brain’s receptors that produce the craving. The Vietnamese treatment blocks the receptors so that there is no craving the German and Vietnamese scientists tell me. The reason why there is a German connection is because most of the top Vietnamese scientists and doctors prior to the collapse of the USSR, were educated either in Eastern Germany or Russia (Moscow) and there lies the affinity. Indeed, the Vietnamese scientists and doctors are just as qualified as ours in the West. In many ways better as they are educated not only in western medicine/techniques but traditional medicines also. One has to understand also in this respect that traditional medicines in the Far East have been around for over 2,000 years unlike modern pharmaceuticals, which have only been with us for just over 100 years. Therefore traditional medicines are much safer than modern drugs as they have stood the test-of-time and where those that harm have been eradicated over centuries of trial and error. Unfortunately with modern drugs they have not this advantage and where time-after-time major side effects are found when it is too late and the drugs are withdrawn. That is the great disadvantage of modern pharmaceuticals over traditional medicines that actually work but where western regulations do not allow them to be utilized. A great disservice and to the disadvantage of we that live in the West.

    In conclusion, all I say again is that we only ask that the British government undertake trials !


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  • 52. At 4:21pm on 07 Oct 2008, pandatank wrote:

    I have never understood the wisdom of weaning an addict off their Heroin by prescribing the more addictive Methadone. Would we wean people off Cannabis by prescribing Heroin?
    If the figures are correct, the only reason for Methadone treatment is to try and ensure peole don't use street drugs cut with god knows what. Why not use good quality heroin bought from Afghan farmers? We undercut the street dealers, we reduce recruitment to the Taleban and we actually have a chance of sending the addict home drug-free

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  • 53. At 8:18pm on 07 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    Has my account been terminated as I cannot post any more replies or comments? If so please advise.

    Dr David Hill
    World Innovation Foundation Charity (WIFC)
    Bern, Switzerland

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  • 54. At 8:22pm on 07 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    I looked up the web-link on Ibogaine that you gave.

    According to the article the FDA undertook trials in 1992/3 but where there was a fatality through overdose from Ibogaine. Added to this it says that ibogaine has side-effects which include ataxia (loss of muscle coordination), nausea, vomiting, raised blood pressure, tremors, hallucinations and apprehension.

    The Vietnamese treatment/cure has none of these major afflictions. Indeed, no cited or know side effects at all even in patients treated some 11 years ago in Vietnam.

    I repeat that we have had no further feedback from Paul Hayes, which shows to me that he and the government know deep down the errors of their ways as identified by Mark Easton's article and John Humphrey's interview.


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  • 55. At 11:34pm on 07 Oct 2008, ButtonGinger wrote:

    I suspect the 'Vietnamese' answer that davidstuarthill keeps tirelessly promoting here might be the word "camps" - not the 13 herbal remedies in one capsule thingy.

    Many Communist regimes are fairly totalitarian and if you are identified by the authorities as a problem you have no choice but to submit to treatment/re-education/punishment.

    These camps are usually far away from the addicts' homes and usual drug suppliers. When the addicts relapse, they are dragged back to the camps again.

    Cold turkey sometimes with acupuncture is the most common Vietnamese way.

    Those who advocate Ibogaine are on a hiding to nothing.

    Ibogaine is a psychoactive drug taken for it's hallucinogenic properties.

    It was found (ONLY IN A SMALL MINORITY OF PEOPLE) that it removed cravings for other drugs - hence the touting of it as a 'cure' since the 1960s.

    I worked on the fringes of drug law enforcement and it became apparent that many addicts were pretty good at taking advantage of any system put in place.

    The hoarding of methadone, buprenorphine and tranquilisers, trading them to dealers and 'topping up' their prescriptions with illegal drugs were all depressingly common.

    Many convicted of drugs-related offences are reluctant to become registered addicts as they then become subject to drug tests and all the hassle of counselling, doctors and..... well, let's face it, many drug users, no matter how pathetic and desperate they become really don't see a problem with their drug use.

    Simply handing out methadone 'scripts or even doling out daily methadone doses is not enough. That's simply an unpopular 'holding pattern'.

    Those who are addicts and who want to stop using drugs, like those with any compulsive behaviour, need counselling, intensive therapy and long term support after the initial rehab.

    After all, as drugs have take over their lives, their entire lifestyles have to change - that's not easy and they need all the support and help they can get in that regard.

    That doesn't seem to be on the cards any time soon.

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  • 56. At 00:18am on 08 Oct 2008, jayfurneaux wrote:

    Like David, I have attempted to post twice and my comments are not registering. Am I being blocked? If so, please let me know so I can stop wasting my time.

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  • 57. At 11:01am on 08 Oct 2008, ADHDopinion wrote:

    the best thing to give someone to kick their heroin habit is pure cannabis, before i have a wave of ppl deriding me about this please go look up the facts and not the idiotic scare tactics that pass as evidence of the contrary, LCA UK has plenty of info

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  • 58. At 12:32pm on 08 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    thc delta 6 works on the opium receptors in the body. Its created by high temp evaporation methords.

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  • 59. At 1:30pm on 08 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:


    Where are you respectfully getting your information from. Please direct me to your information. I ask this as international scientists have been working on the Vietnamese treatment for 8-years now and where the compounds have all been fully identified of the thirteen plant extracts. These scientists are some of the \leading phytochemistry scientists in the world. The ones in question are Germany's best, even supported by Nobel Prize winners.

    Therefore please let us have more information to substantiate your claims. I think everyone should know.

    Respectfully you appear to have a closed mind in what you have stated and resided to the present system that simply is not working. Or in your eyes, it may be?


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  • 60. At 12:35pm on 09 Oct 2008, davidstuarthill wrote:

    As ButtonGinger hasn't replied, in Germany the most eminently regarded scientific research institutes are those that either bear the title of a Leibniz-Institute after the German equivalent of Sir Issac Newton, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, or the Max-Planck Institutes. Indeed Leibniz invented independently the calculus (his notations adopted and not Newtons in modern mathematics) and also discovered the binary system, the foundation of virtually all modern computer architectures.

    The Leibniz institute that has been undertaking joint research with some of Vietnam's most eminent scientists (including the President of their Academy of Sciences, Prof. Dr. Dang Vu Minh ) for 8-years now is the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, headed by Professor Dr. Ludger A. Wessjohann. Dr. Wessjohann collaborates with Nobel Laureate Robert Huber.

    Vietnam has now a dynamic economy and is a major 'local' trading partner with China. It is not a backwood nation anymore and is in transition. Therefore their scientists are as good and in some cases better than those in the West. Indeed, their laboratories are equipped with high-tech western technology, equivalent in every way to our own.

    I thought other than hearsay and supposition by ButtonGinger and for others to know, it is not therefore a Nazi style 'camp' situation where treatment is forced upon people. Completely the opposite where patients and their families are cared for during the short period of humane detoxification.


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  • 61. At 1:18pm on 09 Oct 2008, GordonBrownsux wrote:

    Drug treatment programmes, what a massive waste of taxpayers money. The more you throw at these people the more of them you create. The only way to solve the problem is not to treat at all! Let them look after themselves, financially, physically, mentally, then we would see drastic reductions because once they were not 'molly coddled' they would be forced to sort themselves out. Also it would be less fashionable to be a junkie, full stop!!!

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  • 62. At 11:04pm on 09 Oct 2008, ButtonGinger wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 63. At 1:41pm on 16 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Sports People are drug tested if found using are banned.
    The Armed forces are drug tested and if found using sacked.
    The Police are drugs tested and if found using sacked.
    Many Jobs require drug testing and if the user is found posative loses thier job.

    When it comes to the most vital role Governing and running the country this goes to the wall, why are the people who are at the top not drug tested on a regular basis or are people in power so trustworthy that they consider themselves exempt from the law and the fitness to perform.

    Is it time to get serious about this war on drugs and flush all influance out of the system starting at the very foundation of the laws in question.

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  • 64. At 3:56pm on 12 Aug 2009, fhayejones wrote:

    If the NTA shows that there are increase in the number of people they must do something and able to look for solutions. It is very alarming to hear that a residential treatment facility is having problems. Hope they take immediate action to it.

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  • 65. At 4:53pm on 12 Aug 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    To be fair: I think it is partially a success and also a failure in the treatment of drug addicts....

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 66. At 11:35pm on 12 Aug 2009, iNotHere wrote:


    You mentioned earlier about the programme Afghan Heroin: The Lost War. I take it's a BBC prog? Been all over iplayer, can't see a mention of it, you don't happen to have a link do you?

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  • 67. At 09:53am on 14 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    iNotHere its 'National Geographic Afghan Heroin The Lost War'

    have to torrent it tried a search for it but it just flags torrent sites as the only source for the full programme. it dont seem to be on NG's site...

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  • 68. At 12:57pm on 14 Aug 2009, iNotHere wrote:


    Cheers man...found it. Getting it now. :)

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  • 69. At 2:27pm on 14 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    lol this has also gone torrents only.....

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  • 70. At 3:43pm on 14 Aug 2009, Joan Olivares wrote:

    What? Another drug debate? Mark, do you need to confess something to us?

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  • 71. At 4:17pm on 14 Aug 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    Ta. Got that one too :)

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  • 72. At 6:09pm on 14 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    LoL Joan

    What? Another drug debate? Mark, do you need to confess something to us?

    This is an old one hun.

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  • 73. At 03:09am on 15 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Oh dear seems cannabis stops you getting old.....

    Cannabis may prevent osteoporosis um this has been known for a long time affects your brain cells in the same whay with ageing

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  • 74. At 7:34pm on 26 Aug 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    Seeing as the other blog about drug policy has now closed I thought I'd post this here:

    How long before other countries start to ignore the heavy handed US approach and make their own drug policies......can't happen too soon in my opinion.


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  • 75. At 11:09pm on 26 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Colorado's Marijuana Economy: An Explosion of Ganjapreneurship

    interesting read.

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  • 76. At 11:12pm on 26 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    yer shame the other one closed. Need a dedicated blog for this subject.:)

    other changes that seems to be sweeping places.

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  • 77. At 11:14pm on 26 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    West Yorkshire revealed as UK's cannabis capital LOL

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  • 78. At 12:13pm on 27 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 79. At 1:08pm on 27 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    how did a link break the house rules ?

    Schizophrenia link to cannabis denied

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  • 80. At 5:08pm on 27 Aug 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    Good links CommunityCriminal. I especially liked the Colerado article. If our greedy government would only take their blinkers off and open their eyes to the high revenue even just medical cannabis could rake in for the treasury they would leap on the chance to exploit it. It would certainly help the country in recession as well as giving people the medication they both need and want. It sickens me when disabled and ill people are hauled through the courts and punished when all they want is to help their ailments. The US has gone down this route for years, it seems at last common sense is prevailing. How long before our government pulls its head out of its posterior and does the same???

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  • 81. At 9:45pm on 27 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    6% (percent) of current USA farmland dedicated to hemp biomass would run all the USA energy needs for ever.

    Thanks iNotHere ill keep em coming until this one closes.

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  • 82. At 9:51pm on 27 Aug 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    one dollar fines for pot

    Mexico's New Drug Law May Set an Example,8599,1918725,00.html

    Argentine Court Decriminalizes Private Marijuana Use

    The wall is falling :)

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  • 83. At 1:21pm on 29 Aug 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    It would be good to see a blog on here discussing the merits of cannabis as a drug. 13 states in the US have recognized the plant as having use medicinally. California, Colorado, New Mexico and Rhode Island have gone the whole way and have cannabis dispensaries. 7 more states are considering medical cannabis bills. Obama has instructed the FBI that Federal law does not supersede state law so the medical cannabis dispenseriesor patients will not be raided and prosecuted.

    There has been a hell of a lot of research carried out to find out the what the plants theraputic values are. For our government to come out and lie and say there is no theraputic value is scandalous.
    Been reading a fascinating report into the medical efficacy of cannabis that was carried out in 2002.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    If the government are against the recreational use of this plant then so be it,but why not even look into the benefits of medical cannabis? Why condemn glaucoma patients to blindness, spinal injury patients to chronic pain, chemo and HIV patients to the chronic nausea etc etc?

    The pharmaceutical drugs can have horrendous side effects that can make someones life not worth living whereas cannabis used in a controlled way has all the benefits and more, and none of the side effects that the pharmaceutical drugs have.
    Those scientists with open minds are finding that it helps many more conditions than they origianlly thought.

    It's about time this was discussed and debated......and the law changed!

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  • 84. At 9:46pm on 29 Aug 2009, clairewaltersmcg wrote:

    Well Mr easton let me tell you Andrew Walters is my cousin and as much as I love him I have tried so hard for him to get clean as has all our family and believe it or not as much as he has done wrong to me i would take him in again! I would love to hear that he is doing well especially for his young son who is a real credit to him. I sat and watched your report the day i brought home my daughter from hospital and i really hope a year on Andrew is doing as well as he was on your bbc report xx

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  • 85. At 09:12am on 30 Aug 2009, clairewaltersmcg wrote:


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  • 86. At 3:26pm on 01 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Research: Regular marijuana users suffer less impairment than occasional users

    this is interseting

    another sterio type blown out of the water..

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  • 87. At 10:43am on 06 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Is America ready to admit defeat in its 40-year war on drugs?

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  • 88. At 11:23am on 06 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Prohibition's failed. Time for a new drugs policy

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  • 89. At 5:42pm on 07 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    The war on drugs is immoral idiocy. We need the courage of ArgentinaWhile Latin American countries decriminalise narcotics, Britain persists in prohibition that causes vast human suffering.

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  • 90. At 10:12pm on 07 Sep 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    I sent an email to the LibDems the other day as I'd heard they would be advocating a new drug policy. I got this in the reply today:

    The Policy in Brief

    The punitive approach to drug users that we have followed for decades has not been successful. Drug use is higher than ever and our prisons are full to bursting with drug addicts. It is time to stop criminalising drug users and start focusing on ending their addiction through medical treatment. The Liberal Democrats will place policy making in the drugs field on a much firmer evidence-based footing. This will involve the reform of excessive and counterproductive criminal penalties and the promotion of a more effective policy to reduce drug dependency and its adverse consequences. We will also
    break the links between cannabis use and organised crime and release police resources for higher priority tasks.

    Why is it Necessary

    The current law is not working. It neither effectively deters people from drug use nor ensures effective education and treatment. The UK has one of the most punitive approaches in Europe, yet according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Abuse the UK has one of the highest levels of drug use in Europe.
    1 In 2006/07, 10% of adults (age 16-59) in England and Wales had used one or more illegal drug in the past year, and 5.9% in the last month
    2 In 2006/07, 24.1% of 16-24 year olds said they had used an illegal drug in the last year. 8.3 % reported ‘frequent use’.
    3 In 2007, 17% of 11-15 year olds in England say they have used illegal drugs in the last year, 10% in the last month.
    4 We need to view drug misuse more as a public health issue and focus overstretched criminal justice resources on the dealers and organised criminals. The law has to be credible. The current classification system needs to be changed to ensure it is more credible.

    We believe treatment and prevention should be the priority for individuals who use drugs. But the full force of the criminal law should be directed at the thugs and pushers who run the illegal drugs trade. Our overstretched police, courts and prisons should be focusing their efforts on these organised criminals. That is why we are proposing tough new measures to combat them, including a new offence of ‘dealing’ to target those supplying illegal drugs over long periods of time, making it easier to confiscate their assets, and allowing the selling of drugs near children to be an aggravating factor in sentencing.

    Policy Detail

    Place policy making in the drugs field on a much firmer evidence-based footing by: Re-establishing the existing Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs as a standing Drugs Commission with a wider range of expertise, greater independence from the Government, and a remit to look at social effects and abuse of legal drugs including alcohol, tobacco and solvents as well as currently illegal drugs.
    Giving the Drugs Commission the task of advising the Government on appropriate scheduling of drugs and policy responses on a continuous basis. Requiring the Drugs Commission to conduct a major audit of the extent and social and economic costs of the drugs problem in the UK and the effectiveness of policies to tackle it.
    Seeking to initiate a European level review of the drugs problem and the range of policy responses with a view to securing renegotiation of UN Conventions on Drug Trafficking.

    Break the links between cannabis use and organised crime and release police resources for higher priority tasks by:
    Retaining the classification of cannabis as a Class C drug, in line with the
    recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which
    the Government ignored.
    Adopting a policy of not prosecuting possession for own use, social supply to adults or cultivation of cannabis plants for own use.
    Repealing Sections 8 (c) and (d) of the Misuse of Drugs Act so that it is no longer a crime for the occupier or manager of premises to permit someone to use cannabis on those premises.

    Permitting medical use of cannabis derivatives, subject to appropriate
    pharmaceutical controls and the successful conclusion of current clinical trials. In the longer term, seeking to put the supply of cannabis on a legal, regulated basis, subject to securing necessary renegotiation of the UN Conventions. The Global Cannabis Commission report of September 2008,
    published as part of the 2009 UN drug policy review supports a policy of regulated availability to minimise the harms associated with cannabis abuse, adding that much of this harm is a result of prohibition itself.

    Reform excessive and counterproductive criminal penalties by:
    Ending the use of imprisonment for possession for own use of illegal drugs of any class. Re-classifying ecstasy from Class A to Class B, but not re-classifying it further unless recommended by the Drugs Commission subject to evidence on long-term health effects. The ACMD is currently undertaking a review of ecstasy’s Class A status.
    Amending sections 8 (a) and (b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act as recommended by
    Runciman so that occupiers or managers of premises only commit a crime if they knowingly and wilfully permit the supply or production of illegal drugs on those premises.
    Promote a more effective policy to reduce drug dependency and its adverse
    consequences by:
    Developing specialist heroin treatment clinics where heroin or heroin substitutes can be administered under controlled conditions, with other medical treatment and testing, and counselling and withdrawal programmes available, with the longterm aim of making such services widely available.

    Allowing GPs to prescribe short term or emergency maintenance doses of
    addictive drugs, particularly diamorphine hydrochloride (heroin), to remove the dependence of any new or existing addicts on criminal suppliers.
    Repealing section 9A of the Misuse of Drugs Act to allow harm minimisation
    programmes to distribute drug paraphernalia such as safe tourniquets, as
    recommended by Runciman.
    Assessing other alternatives to criminal sanctions such as Drug Treatment and
    Testing Orders (DTTOs) and Drug Abstinence Orders (DAOs) and if suitable, extending their use. DTTOs are used for offenders who have drug misuse issues
    that require treatment. It requires compliance by the offender, who receives
    supervised treatment and regular testing. DAOs are aimed at low level offenders, with low level drug use, who are not assessed as being suitable for treatment. Re-allocating resources towards making treatment and rehabilitation facilities and programmes more generally available.

    Crack down on illegal drug trafficking and drug affected driving by:
    Introducing a new offence of ‘dealing’ as recommended by Runciman to allow more effective action against those proved to be supplying illegal drugs over long periods of time. Allowing the selling of drugs near schools, psychiatric facilities and other sensitive locations to be an aggravating factor in sentencing, as recommended by Runciman.

    Launching a public information campaign on the dangers of drug-affected driving, and encouraging the police to carry out roadside sobriety testing of suspected unfit drivers when appropriate.

    Sending just 1 in 10 drug users to residential rehab instead of prison would save £40m a year.

    I think the tide is turning at last :)

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  • 91. At 10:59pm on 07 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Very Nice iNotHere seems corners are being turned.

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  • 92. At 11:18pm on 07 Sep 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    It is good isn't it. The sad thing is I had to email them to find it out, they don't seem to be publicising it too loudly. Still I can SHOUT LOUD! :)

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  • 93. At 12:03pm on 08 Sep 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Lol the green party are the same cannabis sold by royal decree or something along those lines, but do you ever hear them say that in public .....?

    DU405 Cannabis would be removed from the 1971 Misuse of drugs act. The possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis would be immediately decriminalised, roughly following the Dutch model. The trade in Cannabis would be the subject of a Royal Commission (see below), with a view to establishing a fully legalised, controlled and regulated trade. Small-scale possession of drugs for personal use would be decriminalised. The starting point would be advice to policing authorities to caution rather than prosecute for offences of drug possession for personal use and to refer offenders to the health-care services (see DU411). Subsequently, regulations would be brought forward removing criminal sanctions for simple possession of controlled drugs for personal use. The recommended sentences for small-scale supply would be non-custodial options. The possession of pipes made for the use in connection with smoking of opium would no longer be a criminal offence. A Royal Commission or similar body would be established to review currently controlled drug classifications, within a legalised environment of drug use. This commission would, after wide consultation, consider and recommend frameworks of social, economic and health conditions for drug use and supply.

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  • 94. At 1:29pm on 08 Sep 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    Sadly, the Lib Dems have fallen into the same old trap by advocating decriminalisation instead of legalisation.

    Decriminalisation may reduce the burden on the Police, Courts & Prisons but it still leaves drugs in the hands of criminal gangs instead of turning it into a fully legalised and regulated industry.

    The Dutch system may be better than ours but it still isn't good enough.
    For example, you still have to test Ecstasy tablets to ensure their quality because they're still being made by criminals instead of pharmacies. If the likes of Bayer were able to make them then you wouldn't need to do these tests as they would all be quality checked by the manufacturers.

    The Greens can make whatever promises they want as there's little chance of them ever coming to power, sadly, the same is probably true of the Lib Dems, at least in the next few years. Unfortunately we're either keeping the government we've got or we'll replace them with a Conservative government come the next election and neither Labour or the Conservatives look like they're going to change their drugs policies and both of them have pretty much the same policy, Prohibition, Criminalisation & Incarceration.

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  • 95. At 2:12pm on 08 Sep 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    Yeah I noticed that but they do say that they will:

    "In the longer term, seeking to put the supply of cannabis on a legal, regulated basis, subject to securing necessary renegotiation of the UN Conventions".

    Would prefer it were done in one fell swoop but small steps would have to be taken and it's gotta be better than what we got now. Even the Dutch haven't legalised and their system is FAR better than ours.

    I've emailed every party in recent years when there has been a election looming just to see what the replies were, and this is the most comprehensive I've ever received from any of them. Think you're being a tiny tad cynical there Secretariat :) If nobody votes for the libdems how will they EVER get into power? There are a hell of a lot tokers out there who have always wanted one of the major parties to have this as their policy, now we got it. Let's take advantage of it, tell everyone who it concerns that there is a party that will support them.

    And no, before you ask I'm not a menber of the Libdems. lol

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  • 96. At 3:45pm on 08 Sep 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    Cynical, me ?
    Never !

    To be honest mate my membership of the Lib Dems expired last month and I decided not to renew it as the party is a shambles. They're under funded, badly organised and have very little chance of ever making an impact in my local area.

    I've spent the last few years trying to encourage local people to get involved with the party, and even though I've told them about policies like this, they rarely, if ever, decide to get involved or even bother to vote.

    We're living in an age of apathy and almost everyone you speak to doubts the Lib Dems will ever make a big impact, 1997 was the parties last, best chance to do well in a General Election but unfortunately the party failed to capitalise on the situation and New Labour ended up winning by a landslide. Even while Labour have been lurching from one disaster to the next over the last few years they've failed to make a big enough push and couldn't even make full use of Vince Cable's widespread popularity during the economic problems.

    I'd love to see a Lib Dem government elected next year but if I was a betting man I wouldn't be putting any money on it, to be honest I can't even see them coming second.

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  • 97. At 2:42pm on 11 Sep 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    ..and now it's Columbia's turn..

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