Letter: Futile `drugs war'

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The Independent Culture

Futile `drugs war'

Sir: Having lost two young patients in the past month from the injecting of a particularly pure form of heroin that appears to be currently available on the streets of London, leaving behind an orphaned eight-year-old and fatherless seven-year-old, I feel extremely angry

David Macauley's article explaining why he quit as the director of Scotland Against Drugs (Comment, 4 September) said nothing new ("education has to be at the forefront, availability must be reduced, must shift the culture" etc) and quitting is not going to help.

We must get away from the "war on drugs" and get into the field of "peaceful negotiation", as in Northern Ireland. Education has failed our children, who are dying. Reducing availability has failed. Changing the culture is a long-term goal, which might ultimately succeed.

We must listen to our youngsters who want desperately to get out of the grip of heroin and other drugs but cannot, largely because of the illegality of their action.

We must consider providing locally based, user-friendly, legal, controlled, specialist outlets for these drugs so that young people can get and administer their drugs in clinical and social safety. And then we must provide the rehabilitation facilities in which they can be guided back into society and in which they can be trained in the skills which will enable them to make a positive contribution. This approach will immediately reduce the crime rate, it will put the current providers out of business and it will reduce the appalling mortality rates from drug use. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, let's talk about it.


General Practitioner