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Just Got Out of Prison? Here, Have Some Drugs April 9, 2010

Posted by bitchwantstea in Health, Politics.
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Few would disagree that trying to overcome a drug addiction is hard.

Now imagine trying to overcome it in prison, where a flow of drugs is often rife.

Seems pretty impossible, doesn’t it?  But some prisoners do manage to beat their demons.  And imagine those drug-free prisoners, upon their return to society, being given methadone (a heroin substitute), by the very people who helped them get clean in the first place.

Such is the situation with English prisons over the past five years.

The process, called “retoxification”, is allegedly designed to boost the tolerance of former addicts who are deemed likely to start using drugs on their release, to minimise the risk of them taking an overdose.

But critics of the treatment have accused prison doctors, acting under Department of Health guidelines, of “state-sponsored” drug dealing and “giving up on tackling” the problem.

Kathy Gyngell, of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “It gives the impression the Government is giving up on tackling drug addiction.

“This doesn’t get people off drugs – but captures them in the grip of methadone instead.”

It is claimed that retoxification is used at 33 prisons in England, and can be offered to former addicts even if the length of their sentences mean they have been free of drugs for some time.

Health Department spokesperson said: “The Department of Health does not have a central programme of retoxification of prisoners.

“In exceptional circumstances, qualified doctors can decide whether to use this treatment and the clinical guidance is clear that they should only do so when there is a serious risk of the prisoner reusing drugs immediately on release and therefore putting themselves at risk of death from an accidental drugs overdose if they don’t get it.

“Other drug treatment techniques should always be used first.”

What do you think, BWT readers?  Does the Health Department have a point?

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