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I was very interested to read your
report on the
Creating Recovery
conference (
, February, page 18),
and welcome any initiative that looks
to challenge stigma and celebrate
recovery – especially one that comes
with an announcement of new much-
needed funding available to help
community groups.
I was however incredulous at the
reporting of the comments made by
Benjamin Lloyd Stormont Mancroft,
the 3rd Baron Mancroft. In your report
you quote Lord Mancroft as saying:
‘The healthcare profession can’t cure
addiction. Doctors do not understand
addiction – it’s not in their radar.’
While the healthcare profession may
not have all the answers to ‘cure’
addiction, I'm yet to encounter one
type of treatment that can. A person’s
recovery from addiction comes around
from a combination of many factors,
usually beginning with their desire for
recovery, but aided and supported by
a range of services including
healthcare professionals. Doctors
might not be perfect but are a group
of well-trained individuals working with
evidence-based treatment, who are
often the first step on an individual’s
recovery journey. To write them off in
one sweeping statement is incredibly
arrogant and ill informed.
Lord Mancroft went on to assert
that the NHS was the ‘most
dangerous dealer in the world, for
prescription drugs’ and said that after
‘30 years of very close observation’
he had ‘never seen anyone benefit
from substitute prescribing for any
but a very short length of time’. His
Lordship has previous for making
sweeping statements that are not
backed up by any evidence, and his
comments on nurses a few years ago
earned him criticism from all quarters
including his own party leader who
said he should ‘think more carefully
before opening his mouth’. It seems
he has not paid heed to this.
Baron Mancroft is as entitled to
his views as any other service user
and his inherited privileged position
in society has given him a platform to
make them, but it is important that
they are not reported with the same
weight as those of knowledgeable
professionals. Unless, of course, he
would like to provide the evidence to
support them.
David Prentice, via email
‘There are figures on both sides of
recovery and human rights/harm
reduction who share views and are
looking for points of connection and
trying to collaborate,’ says Mat
Southwell in your interview (
February, page 17).
This may be true, but the evidence
in my area is very thin on the ground.
Our attempts at a fully inclusive
service user group have gone out of
the window since our members
became preoccupied over whether
we’re a ‘user group’ a ‘service user
group’ or a ‘recovery group’.
Personally I don’t think it matters, but
to many of our members the label
has become more important than
what we actually do. We’re in danger
of degenerating into an unstructured
mess and losing all our members.
So if there are ‘figures’ on any
side who have advice on connecting
and collaborating with those of us out
there struggling to keep service user
involvement alive, please give us
some pointers!
Jane, by email
‘What is the REC-CAP?’ ask the
authors in their article, ‘How far have
you come?’ (
, February, page 14).
What indeed. So taking elements of
established engagement, outcome
and recovery measures can create a
flexible online recovery mapping
measure, can it?
Am I the only one to feel slightly
depressed by the idea of a ‘clinical
recovery tool’? We used to talk to our
clients and make sure they had the
right key worker. Now we are expected
to process them and send them away
with a great big recovery star – sorry,
a ‘visual map of recovery wellbeing’.
Paul Ainsley, by email
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Letters |
Media savvy
March 2014 |
| 21
The choice we have to make now is how we do things differently. Repeating
the mistakes of the past is not the way to solve this problem in the future.
Put simply, if you are anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform.
Nick Clegg,
, 9 February
Instead of proposing any action, [Nick Clegg] is resorting to the nervous
refrain of calling for more debate on a subject that has been debated for
decades. Sadly, he appears to be doing this only for the most naked and
short-term political reasons, as part of his desperate efforts to find some
definition for his flailing party.
Ian Birrell,
, 10 February
When liberals, libertarians and Tea Party Republicans find themselves nodding
in unison on drug law reform, it’s fair to say that the issue’s time has come.
Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch,
, 9 February
The death ‘in recovery’ of Philip Seymour Hoffman emphasises the dangers
addicts face when they start to use again… The lesson of Hoffman’s untimely
death may well be that simplistic views of recovery and abstinence-only
treatments leave addicts vulnerable to relapse, and increase the risk of death.
David Nutt,
, 4 February
There are no winners in the illegality of drugs, except the lucky ones who
make money from it without getting caught. The only hope is that high-
profile casualties such as Hoffman’s might lead a few legislators to see the
damage done by these laws and correct their ways. At least in some
American states the door of legalisation is now ajar. Not so in Britain, where
the most raging addiction is inertia.
Simon Jenkins,
, 3 February
Drugs can give you pleasure, relaxation and sociability. If you try to use them
to escape a shitty life, you find your life is even shittier when you come
round. But we’re all potential rats on the pleasure pedal and anyone who
can’t stop repeatedly using a substance (sugar, credit card or cocaine), even
when we know it’s not doing us any good, is an addict.
Dr Phil Hammond,
, 18 February
People are going to use drugs; no self-respecting drug addict is even
remotely deterred by prohibition. What prohibition achieves is an
unregulated, criminal-controlled, sprawling, global mob-economy, where
drug users, their families and society at large are all exposed to the worst
conceivable version of this regrettably unavoidable problem.
Russell Brand,
, 6 February
I am not bothered about Russell Brand. His petition demanding a
parliamentary debate has become the stuff of comedy, given his earlier public
strictures on ignoring democracy. Beyond celebrity groupies and metropolitan
admirers, his erratic and self-serving ramblings won’t persuade.
Kathy Gyngell,
, 20 February
There are no hard and fast rules in addiction; there’s no neat definition of it
as a ‘disease’, whatever addicts are told in rehab. Some folk pass through a
phase of addiction and then the compulsion leaves them… But for many –
perhaps most – addicts, the addictive urge doesn’t leave you just because
you’ve stopped using drugs, or drinking, or gambling, or gazing for hours at
internet porn, or bingeing on cupcakes until you make yourself sick.
Damian Thompson,
, 3 February