For healthcare professionals only


Why Britain's drug czar mustn't wage war on drugs

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 09 August 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:325

Aim for pragmatism, not dogma

  1. John Strang, Directora,
  2. William B Clee, Chairb,
  3. Lawrence Gruer, Consultant in public health medicinec,
  4. Duncan Raistrick, Directord
  1. a National Addiction Centre, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF
  2. b Welsh Advisory Committee on Drug and Alcohol Misuse, Parc-Caonl Practice, Church Village, Rhondda-Cynon-Taff, South Wales
  3. c HIV and Addictions Resource Centre, Ruchill Hospital, Glasgow G20 9NE
  4. d Leeds Addiction Unit, 19 Springfield Mount, Leeds LS2 9NG

    The British government has advertised the first ever post of drug supremo, or 'drug czar' to borrow the term used in the United States. It is good news that the new Labour government is evidently serious about the growing national and international drug problem and intends to strengthen further the pan-departmental approach taken by the central drugs co-ordinating unit and its strategic document for England, Tackling Drugs Together.1

    But there is a grave danger that the increased political attention could backfire, producing a more politicised approach to the problem and causing the new czar's dominant orientation to be one of control. Crime dominated posturing would lead to a damaging dissociation between the public appeal of the policy and actual evidence of effectiveness. It could lead to a mistaken bias to funding more panda cars, prisons, and pop propaganda instead of evidence-based treatment, rehabilitation, and preventive strategies. In contrast, diverting limited resources from enforcement to treatment and rehabilitation would result in more cost-effective crime …

    View Full Text

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription