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Drug addiction

Drug Addicts Rewarded for Good Behavior with More Drugs

Friday, April 11, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: drug addiction, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Drug treatment programs in the United Kingdom have been rewarding cocaine and heroin addicts for clean urine drug tests by giving them other drugs, according to a survey conducted by the British National Treatment Agency.

Of 200 clinics surveyed, one third reported offering increased doses of methadone, a heroin substitute, as a reward for clean tests. A quarter reported allowing patients to select their own "reward" from options including methadone, anti-depressants, cash vouchers or access to detox.

Dawn Primarolo, the British Health Minister, responded to the study by calling for a government report on the practice. "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 program," Primarolo said.

According to Paul Hayes, executive chief of the National Treatment Agency, the rewards system being used by many British clinics is a distortion of appropriate medical practices.

"It is entirely appropriate to prescribe other drugs alongside prescription drugs that are to deal with withdrawal," he said, "[but] not as a reward. ... What we would say is the dose people get ought to be determined by the individual's needs, not by whether or not they're co-operating with the regime."

Matthew Taylor, a spokesperson for the Royal Society of Arts, said that the drug rewards program is only one symptom of a failed, ineffective drug treatment program. Only 6 percent of participants in the United Kingdom's drug treatment program successfully complete it each year.

"Only a very small proportion of those people who are put through drug detoxification successfully complete the program," he said, "and even when people do successfully complete the program they revert to drug use very quickly. So we need a different approach, and the fact that some people feel that they need to incentives drug users with other drugs in order to keep them off illegal drugs is, I think, part of that general problem."

Studies have suggested, however, that even when addiction is not cured, access to treatment still improves health and reduces crime among drug users.

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