The news, and the skews, in the national media.
The increase in drug-related deaths hasn’t suddenly happened, deaths have been rising significantly for years. There has been ample opportunity to think about how to reverse this horrendous trend. And unusually, we know how to do it. The evidence has been collected and made available to ministers… So if it’s not a lack of evidence, something else must be holding back politicians from tackling the rise in drug-related mortality. It’s seductively simple to point out the failings of politicians on this issue. But they instinctively follow public opinion rather than shape it. So the uncomfortable truth might be that we, the electorate, are responsible.
Ian Hamilton, Independent, 15 August
Few experts consider that criminalising vulnerable and marginalised people who inject drugs is an appropriate response. The UK government should stop politicking about being ‘tough on drugs’ and act urgently to stop the harm to which its policy contributes. Decriminalisation of personal drug use allows interventions such as safer injecting rooms and drug testing where appropriate. It also enables gathering of evidence. What is already clear is that moralising about perceived intrinsic wrongs in taking drugs and blaming or punishing patients for having drug use disorders are not effective or ethical ways to reduce harm.
Richard Hurley, BMJ, 8 August
Most addiction services are not properly connected to wider health and care teams, so people are bounced between addiction and mental health services or fall between the gaps in both. It’s not uncommon for a patient to be excluded from mental health services due to having drug or alcohol use disorder but not be able to access addiction services because they have an untreated mental illness. This represents a lost opportunity to improve outcomes for patients, reduce the harm to individuals and their families, as well as a staggering waste of limited resources.
Julia Sinclair, BMJ, 23 August
As the sickly-sweet stench of marijuana spreads ever further across the once-civilised Western world, there is one universal result. There are more crazy people. Some of them are dangerous. Many of them are crazy because they have fried their brains with skunk. Some are crazier still because baffled doctors have added to the cocktail with various poorly understood prescription drugs. But the chances that you will meet such a person grow daily, as our leaders refuse to enforce the laws against marijuana possession. They will grow still more if they are stupid enough to bow to the billionaire campaign to legalise this poison.
Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday, 11 August