Why I strongly disagree with Caroline Lucas over drug consumption rooms

(This item first appeared in the Brighton Argus on 10th November 2016.  For more about my views on drug consumption rooms, please see here and here).

I am really disappointed that Caroline Lucas MP is suggesting that Brighton and Hove introduce drug consumption rooms.

When it was first proposed by the Brighton and Hove Independent Drugs Commission, it became a complete distraction from the much needed debate about treatment and recovery from addiction. It did not enjoy support within professional circles.

img_3827When I spoke at the Drugs and Alcohol Today conference of drug workers at the Amex Stadium in 2013, my uncompromising rejection of consumption rooms was given a very warm reception by those present. (See the Argus report here).

Consumption rooms might have a place in areas with high concentrations of street injecting. Brighton and Hove has its problems, but we do not have anywhere near the same scale of the problem associated with street injecting behaviour as they do in Glasgow.

I rarely, if ever, hear those who advocate this costly measure calling for more funding to go to abstinence-based treatment service. There is plenty of evidence that abstinence-based residential treatment is the most effective way of helping people to come off and stay off drugs, thereby allowing them to make the transition to normal living: accommodation, training and employment.

We surely want to do something far more positive about addiction and recovery than consumption rooms.

Brighton and Hove used to have the unfortunate reputation for being the drug-death capital of Britain. Through the work of many organisations, we have shaken off that sad reputation.  We should now be aiming to become the recovery capital of the UK.

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