As home secretary Theresa May published the last drug strategy 7 years ago, she couldn’t have predicted what would have happened to her since.

20 Jul 2017

The world has changed in that time and so have drugs and the health issues that Governments must deal with. So is the new drug strategy fit for purpose in this fast changing environment?

The two central ambitions remain namely to reduce the number of people who use drugs while improving recovery rates for those that develop problems with drugs. Although the aims remain the same there is recognition that a smarter way of achieving these is needed.

The Home Office cite falling drug use in the population as a sign that their policy approach to drugs is effective but this is simplistic. A smarter and more meaningful assessment is to examine harm as a result of drug use. Deaths as a result of drug use continue to rise.

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Drug Deaths

The strategy acknowledges the significant rise in opiate related deaths and the importance of using evidence based interventions. So it is odd that there is no mention of drug consumption rooms. These not only reduce mortality but engage a hard to reach group in services that could provide support for the range of complex needs that are highlighted in the New Drug Strategy.

Many factors account for the rise in drug mortality but no mention is made of the government’s move from a harm reduction approach to recovery orientated agenda. These approaches should complement rather than compete with each other.

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