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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