Letters: Drug addiction and rehabilitation

Sorry, but there is no instant answer for drug addicts
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As a GP and opiate addict in recovery, I read the article "Extreme rehab" (2 October) with interest. I, too, am tired of seeing addicts tossed away and ignored or fed Methadone. But drug addiction is not an overnight illness and so logically cannot be cured overnight.

Dr Waismann is offering rapid detox, but not rehab – putting people on to a year-long course of Naltrexone is not a cure; it is substituting one drug with another. Interestingly, there is no mention of what happens to these patients after this year – the real test is how people are five years down the line.

Drug addiction is a long-term illness and needs long-term treatment. It is an illness that is not taught in medical schools and most doctors are not aware of it. It has physical, psychological and social aspects. Of course addiction causes psychological problems – but addicts had problems before which led them to take more and more drugs. If this wasn't the case then every patient prescribed opiate-containing painkillers would become an addict.

Dr Waismann may have a quick and successful method of getting people off their opiates, but staying off them for ever more is the difficult bit. For me, Narcotics Anonymous and the 12-step programme are a life saver and have kept me clean for almost two years now – but I would never say I am cured as I need ongoing treatment to keep me clean.

Name and address supplied

What do bankers know of real work?

Were it not that many of us will be hurt I would be happily relishing the schadenfreude of the present bankers' dilemma. For almost 40 years I have been lectured by bankers and self-styled consultants from the accountancy "profession" about how we manufacturers did not understand how to run our businesses and we should "sweat the assets" and drive the balance sheets harder.

These clowns with absolutely no proper business experience and a vision only as far as the next bonus would patronise us as yokels in an irrelevant, obsolete industry and return to mastering the universe in their London casino.

We worried about the next decade. They laughed and sold us out to the first foreign buyer. Governments were overawed by their apparent ability to generate "wealth" and, skewed our economy against true wealth-creation in favour of the claimed intellectual brilliance of the City. Now it has turned out to be deceit packaged as "instruments" and lethal consequences sold as "products".

Keynsian economics rescued us more than once in the past 70 years and it was in abandoning him that it all went wrong. It is wonderful to see the amoral Chicago/Austrian error compounded by Thatcherite/ Reagonomics being trashed in its own high temple.

Will government learn this time that its role is to protect the people and that wealth is created by work, real value-adding hard work. It is not created by encouraging a few to bet with artificial devices to create synthetic wealth in the hope that they could tax enough of that to buy the votes of the rest of us and import the goods that they have made it nearly impossible to make for ourselves?

Mike Bell

Leeds

With the demise of Bradford & Bingley, the last of the demutualised Building Societies to collapse, is it not time to recognise that the wretched politico-economic experiment known as Thatcherism has failed disastrously.

The idea that "trickle down economics" would create and distribute wealth has long since been discarded – its name is not even uttered these days! The "privatised" utilities have subsided into pseudo-monopolies and one sector has even been "nationalised" by somebody else's government!

Our public facilities (hospitals, schools) are mortgaged into the distant future. Manufacturing has declined almost to the negligible and now we are selling our services sector abroad.

Free-market Thatcherism just cannot work. For efficiency, markets depend on equal access and information, which is fine for relatively cheap domestic, consumables (like potatoes, the sort of simple examples beloved by economists) but not for expensive, complex, and sometimes incomprehensible, products of modern society, be they cars or "securitised" inter-bank loans.

The true "free-market" simply cannot exist in a complex society, and the best we can do is a regulated market which attempts to curb unacceptable practice.

J I Smith

Fakenham, Norfolk

Three weeks ago the financial journalists were saying that the guilty men were bankers who were financing debt caused by stupid Americans in the sub-prime markets. Now they tell us that dearly loved, reliable Brits, HBOS and Bradford & Bingley, were handing out equally stupid 100 per cent mortgages. What will the financial journalists say next week when further horrors appear?

Surely we should include financial journalists in the list of scapegoats, along with the bankers, the FSA, the House of Representatives and Alistair Darling. They failed to warn us two, three or four years ago that there was something rotten about the demutualised British building societies and should be ranked with the guilty men.

Richard Sarson

LONDON SW20

As "buy-to-let" investors default leaving their empty devalued rental properties to the nationalised Bradford & Bingley, does this offer the Government a good source of council houses?

Phil Pearn

CHESTER

The very marked inclination of savers to move their funds to havens backed by the Government leads me to think that such an idea might be politically attractive. Many of us grew up in the era of mutuality and I wonder why a Government-managed "bank" could not simply slot itself into a market currently dominated by spivs.

Barry Butler

Birmingham

As a retired research physicist surviving on a moderate pension, and contemplating the cause of the present catastrophic financial crisis, I recalled a remark made many years ago by a careers master: "He's not particularly good at anything; I think we will put him into accountancy."

B Holmes

Richmond, Surrey

Ukraine's view on Nato enlargement

Ukraine does not see the process of Nato enlargement as a strategic error as Dr John Chipman, Director-General of IISS, does (report, 19 September). He is right in saying that the enlargement should not be "an institutional priority in and of itself". And it isn't.

On the contrary we regard the enlargement policy of Nato and that of the EU as a widening of the area of political and economic freedoms, democracy, shared European values, rule of law and respect of human rights. No doubt the wider this area is the fewer security challenges will arise in Europe and on its borders. And this is in the interest of all Europeans.

The recent international developments have clearly shown that confining the Nato policy to "providing appropriate strategic reassurance to existing members", as proposed by Dr Chipman, would not work without taking into account the wider aspects of a new geopolitical situation in the world.

Ihor Kharchenko

Ambassador of Ukraine

London W11

The last train from Stratford

Much as we'd love people to be able to catch the last train home after our shows, it's not always possible (letters, 26 September).

We know the service isn't ideal and we're in constant discussions with Chiltern Railways about how to improve it – they are as keen as we are and we're making joint approaches to the necessary authorities to find a workable solution (late-night engineering works being just one of the obstacles). We've tried a range of different solutions in the past and none has proved sustainable.

We liked Mr Spackman's suggestion (letters, 1 October), but we've already chopped a good 45 minutes off Hamlet – any more and you'd miss the point, not the train.

Vikki Heywood

Executive Director, Royal Shakespeare Company,

Stratford-upon-Avon,

warwickshire

Blair purge recalls dark days of Soviets

Boris Johnson's action in bullying Ian Blair out of his job makes my blood run cold (report, 3 October).

One of the pillars of our democracy, I thought, was that the police are immune from interference by the political bosses. During the period of his contract a chief constable is supposed to be untouchable unless misconduct can be proved by evidence tendered to the police authority and the Home Secretary. And then, presumably, the officer has the right to answer the accusations before a decision is made.

In this case there has been no evidence presented to anybody, let alone Sir Ian, no hearing and no decisions from the police authority or the Home Secretary. Simply Boris has decided "Blair, I do not like you – you must go". This is the behaviour of a banana republic thug or a commissar in the old-style Soviet Union.

My comments have nothing to do with whether or not Blair has been a good Commissioner. My concern is that Boris Johnson apparently has no conception of the democratic limitations on his powers. This is the stuff dictators are made of.

Dudley Dean

Maresfield, East Sussex

Surely Boris Johnson has a greater democratic mandate to remove Sir Ian Blair than the Home Secretary has to keep him? The Mayor was elected directly by Londoners. The Home Secretary was appointed by the Prime Minister, who was chosen by the Labour Party, which is in government because it has the most MPs, who were individually elected by the British people. Lots of jumps there.

MOHSIN KHAN

Wadham College, Oxford

One of the most disturbing aspects of the media coverage of the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest is the emphasis on mistaken identity. Can we infer from this that it would have been OK for the police to kill an unarmed and restrained man if he had been their suspect?

Death squads carrying out summary executions are a hallmark of dictatorships. In a democracy, everyone – even those accused of the worst crimes – is entitled to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. These principles are the basis of our "British values". Are we going to throw them away so cheaply, simply because Tony Blair said "the rules of the game have changed"?

Mal Ferguson

Liverpool

Now that Sir Ian Blair is to resign, will Tarique Ghaffur get the job?

John Hein

Edinburgh

Best-laid plans

David Cameron's "man with a plan" may well be plagiarised from Gaitskell (letters, 3 October), but surely most would recognise it as an unintentional allusion to Baldrick's idiotic plans in Blackadder. His wouldn't work either.

Andrew Calvert

Ruislip, Middlesex

Breast-cancer drugs

As a breast cancer patient, living on £350 a month statutory sick pay, I was horrified to read Jeremy Laurance's article questioning the fairness of the Government's decision to scrap prescription charges for cancer patients in England (30 September). For patients like me, this announcement will mean getting all the drugs we're prescribed, not just the ones we can afford, and is one less extra cost to consider when trying to get our lives back on track.

Amanda Whetstone

Chessington, Surrey

Sock solutions

The Single Sock Syndrome (letters, 2 October) is easily solved. In my case the light dawned 18 years ago; in a Woolworth's in Florida, I found black socks with a thin white stripe around the top. I bought the whole stock – some 240 pairs. I keep these socks in a basket and do not try to sort them. The first sock I extract is Sock A, the second Sock B. Always they will be a matching pair. The answer to the Single Sock Syndrome is to have all of your socks exactly the same.

Gareth Powell

Storrington, Sussex

Northern transport

Bob Price is right that "the people of the North East are being short-changed" but blames the wrong party (letter, 2 October). After a decade of opportunity, the Labour Government has failed to make any significant improvement to the region's transport structure. The A1 north to Scotland remains a single-lane slowcoach and there has been no widening of the same road at the Metrocentre bottleneck where traffic would be nose to tail if drivers could afford to fill their tanks.

Councillor Robert Oliver

(Conservative)

City of Sunderland Council

Gorilla kingdom costs

A decimal point was omitted from the published text of Will Travers's letter about London Zoo (3 October). The writer cited the cost of the zoo's Gorilla Kingdom as £5.3m, not £53m.

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