Sir, The account provided by Sigrid Rausing of the death of her sister-in- law is insightful and touching ( “Outdated attitudes to drug addicts damage families, FT Weekend, September 16).
It is worth clarifying that since a UK policy change in 2010 drug treatment has moved from a focus on harm reduction to one of abstinence from drugs.
The rise in drug overdoses can be traced back to this change in policy. So suggesting that the significant rise in these deaths can be accounted for by an ageing cohort of opiate users distracts attention from this policy change.
As Rausing rightly says, the state has a duty to protect its people, this change in policy has clearly failed.
I agree with Sigrid that there is scope to be more assertive in providing treatment to people who develop problems with drugs but this can be done without using legal coercion such as sectioning.
However. more assertive treatment requires investment, but treatment budgets have faced year-on-year reductions. We cannot expect to reduce drug related deaths if we continue to reduce investment in treatment.
University of York, UK
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