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Addicts should pay for treatment

14th January 2008

Drug addicts need to be forced to pay for their own hospital treatment, writes Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph.

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The Labour government is basking in the supposed glory of the health service as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. This has provoked questions into how well the NHS is managed. Many people have suggested that people who inflict damage upon themselves - for example through smoking or drinking - should come at the bottom of the list for treatment.

The number of people admitted to hospital because of cannabis abuse has increased by half in the last two years. It is doubtful, despite the increase in admissions, that the government will spearhead an advertising campaign to tackle the problem.

The government has shown its "cowardice" in relation to the country's problems with drug abuse. The misuse of drugs represents the "worst" issue facing British society today.

The best thing we could do is to come down hard on those who take drugs and waste money by using NHS resources. In the same way that people who are responsible for car crashes receive the ambulance bill, so should those who take illegal drugs be forced to pay for the treatment by the health service.

For those people who misuse drugs, the idea of having to pay for their hospital treatment might discourage them from repeating the cycle of drug abuse.

Promoting a "zero tolerance" attitude and enforcing our existing laws more stringently would start to tackle the problem. Forcing addicts to pay for their own treatment would be a significant step forward.


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