I’ve been reading about MPs who want to legalise drug use, to focus more on help for addicts. Something definitely needs to change because drug deaths are rising: there were 2,670 in England alone last year. This statistic is scary for those of us who love an addict. Trouble is, addiction is complex and it’s not just about the high. Addicts have emotional, mental and physical issues going on in their lives – it’s a complicated picture.
Anyway I think there are arguments for and against decriminalisation. Although I can see merit in both, every addict is different. Some might be frightened at the thought of a criminal record whilst others couldn’t care less. Some will respond better to recovery services when others see drugs as the best thing in their lives. It seems obvious that the money would be better spent at places like Turning Point than in the criminal justice system, but many addicts won’t engage with help so what do we do about that. Also, would politicians actually put any more money into addiction services? I’m sceptical. Bottom line is, I can’t decide if I agree with MPs or not.
But in all this, my main concern is for my son who has been an addict for over 20 years. So I’m wondering how decriminalising drug use might look through Ryan’s eyes. Under current law, addicts like him could be fined or sent to prison (although I’m not sure that the law is enforced much). Ryan has been charged with drug possession but only at the same time as other crimes such as assault, shop lifting and failure to do community service or attend court. Has he moderated his drug use because he’s been afraid of the law? I don’t think so. In fact, he sees prison as some sort of respite break where he gets three meals a day, a warm bed and his own TV. I also think he sees stealing as his only way to survive and having a criminal record is a price he’s willing to pay. The other thing to mention is that he’s been offered a lot of help to kick the habit over the years. His family and the authorities have tried and tried with no success. My own health was severely damaged with trying to ‘save’ him; Probation, Turning Point and the Police have also reached out but he’s just not interested.
So all in all, I know that MPs’ proposals for legalising drug use won’t benefit my son. He’s not a lost cause but it is he, not the authorities, who needs a lightbulb moment. Do you think changing the law would help your addict in any way?