New drugs story: the BBC are congratulating themselves for having discovered that heroin and cocaine addicts on the government’s treatment programme are being given methadone and antidepressants as a “reward” for clean urine samples (listen to Mark Easton being smug about it on the Today Programme).
This is very clever, except for the fact that it’s absolute rubbish. The National Treatment Agency report that Easton found this information in was a report on the management of users addicted to both heroin and crack cocaine. This makes for a totally different story.
Crack is a much nastier drug to be addicted to than heroin, and crack addicts rarely stay in treatment. It is also much harder to treat, because there isn’t any methadone-like substitute. If someone is using both crack and heroin, and you can retain them in treatment by giving them methadone, then you stand a chance of being able to stabilise what Drugscope call “other aspects of their chaotic lifestyle”. In other words, you can get them off the streets and stop them screwing themselves up.
Mark Easton has a generally good record on this sort of thing, I’m told. So what he’s doing with this I’m not entirely sure…