Alcohol services are so stretched that people with drink
problems are being encouraged to admit taking drugs so they can
gain access to treatment, it has been claimed.
Delegates at the Drug and Alcohol Today conference last week
said statistics on the numbers of drug misusers were being skewed
and drug services clogged by people with alcohol problems desperate
for any kind of substance misuse treatment.
One drug worker told the conference: “Alcohol users need help.
We go through the model of asking them ‘do you smoke cannabis?’ and
that gets them into a service.”
Lord Adebowale, chief executive of social care charity Turning
Point, told the conference that he was surprised the government was
considering reclassifying cannabis when the Advisory Council on the
Misuse of Drugs had already reviewed the evidence once.
While not denying cannabis could be harmful, Adebowale said the
researchers who had found a link with psychosis had not suggested
reclassifying the drug. He said that African and African-Caribbean
people with mental health problems could be diagnosed with
cannabis-induced psychosis if they admitted to ever having smoked
it. This would have the effect of criminalising them.
Worklessness and poverty also caused mental health problems but
no one had suggested making them offences, he added.
The conference also heard that a new government database of
drugs services would reveal a surprisingly high number of young
Tom Aldridge, young persons manager for the National Treatment
Agency, said that the National Drugs Monitoring Service, which is
being piloted, would surprise people by showing the true level of
young opiate users in drug treatment services. Alcohol services are
so stretched that people with drink problems are being encouraged
to admit taking drugs so they can gain access to treatment, it has