When problematic drug users look for appropriate help it can sometimes be difficult to find. Family members are often reluctant to step forward in the early stages, hoping they will simply stop using and not wanting to out their family member or maybe a friend as a criminal. Even in the very early stages the criminal status gets in the way of recovery. The producer is a criminal, the distributor is a criminal, the supplier is a criminal, the small time dealer is a criminal. None of these people want the users to stop. And the users are powerless to alter the system that is dragging them under.
Kids are drawn into the chain of command. Selling a bit here and there to their mates and slowly being groomed to sell more. When you are a kid in a deprived estate surrounded by people using you may be in a position where you can see no way out. You may suffer from a lack of education or a poverty of aspiration. Yet you can sell pills in clubs and make a very tidy living from a young age. What are you going to do? You are trapped, as much a victim as any user. And you have no power over the supply, the usage or the system.
The law enforcement agencies that are charged with halting the production and supply are often required to put themselves in a position of extreme danger. Working undercover or running informants involves getting close to dangerous people with a lot to lose. The violence used by criminals to protect their share of the drug market is growing year upon year. Sending people to prison doesn’t rehabilitate them, it is more likely to condemn them to a life of crime and punishment. And the law enforcement agencies are powerless to alter the system that wastes their time, energy, abilities and taxpayers money.
Medical professionals and support workers are caught between a criminal justice system that prosecutes and persecutes in equal measures. Funding is often based on producing measurable results. Even if these results are not the most appropriate. Those seeking to help have their hands tied by a legal system constructed around the misuse of drugs act 1971. The obstacles placed in the way of establishing safe drug consumption rooms being a case in point. Bad legislation is harming people and stopping the help that they require from being provided. And the medics, the carers, the support workers are powerless to affect the change that is so obvious.
The problematic users, the kids on estates, the law enforcers, the medical professionals, the support workers, are all fighting a losing battle because they can’t change the system.
And that is why as drugs deaths increase, the crime rate surrounding drugs increases, the violence escalates year in year out and more and more people suffer, those responsible for the existing system should get on with fixing it. And the only people that can do that are the Members of Parliament at Westminster. The U.K. government has the power but it lacks the knowledge, the desire or the compassion to legislate for change that would revolutionise health care and relieve the burden from the judicial system. We have allowed this to happen. Largely by turning a blind eye to the problem. It is time to apologise to all the victims of the war on drugs and make those changes. MPs created the system. MPs can fix it. It is time to legalise, regulate, educate and support. We can’t win the war on drugs but we can win the peace.