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Drug addicts given 'rewards'

18th October 2007

The BBC has found that drug addicts on government treatment programmes are being offered drugs in return for behaving well.

drugabuse1The National Treatment Agency (NTA), is responsible for the £500m-a-year programme. A survey of nearly 200 clinics in England showed that addicts were given methadone or anti-depressants for giving clean urine samples.

One third of clinics gave addicts extra drugs in a practice known as "contingency management". 25% of clinics said they allowed users to choose which drugs they received. Addicts were also offered anti-depressants or cash vouchers for good behaviour.

The drugs treatment programme installed by the government has a low success rate. Every year only 6% of addicts do not go back to using drugs following the treatment.

The NTA's chief executive Paul Hayes told the BBC that it was "important" to reward addicts "according to the best principles for drug treatment".

He added that while it was "appropriate" to give drugs in order to deal with withdrawal symptoms, they did not "advocate" their use as a reward. He said that prescription should be given according to need rather than if an individual was complying with the rules of a treatment centre.

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "It is unacceptable, unethical, it should not happen that prescription drugs and doses are used, or suggested that they should be used, as either incentives or withheld as sanctions as part of a treatment programme."

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Article Information

Title: Drug addicts given 'rewards'
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 4458
Date Added: 18th Oct 2007


BBC News

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