Government proposals for treating drug addicts are ‘doomed to failure’ according to new report

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The Centre for Policy Studies have published a report, which concludes that despite being well-intentioned, plans to introduce Payment by Results (PbR) trials are unlikely to succeed.

The report by leading drugs analyst Kathy Gyngell claims that:

  • New Labour’s approach to drug addiction – prescribing addicts with methadone in an attempt to reduce crime and improve addicts’ health – has been an expensive failure (new estimates for this paper indicate that the annual cost of maintaining treatment and paying benefits to the 320,000 problem drug users is £3.6 billion).
  • Coalition proposals to introduce Payment by Result trials are well-intentioned but doomed to failure, not least because they are being run by the very organisations responsible for the current failure of policy
  • There is an alternative. The problem is one of addiction. The solution lies in freeing people from it. This is being achieved with remarkable success rates by small modern rehabilitation units – none of which have been allowed to apply to run the Coalition’s Payment by Results (PbR) trials.

Kathy Gyngell (Chair of the Prisons and Addictions Policy Forum at the CPS) argues that PbR can work if the importance of abstinence-based rehabilitation is recognised and if bids from such operators are sought. And, crucially, if there is one simple measure of success: that of six months abstinence from all drugs and alcohol.

Breaking the habit (PDF). Centre for Policy Studies, 20 June 2011.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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