In March 2008, a new 10 year national drugs strategy document was published: Drugs: protecting families and communities. This new drug strategy presents an agenda which strongly reinforces the main points of the last strategy with its emphasis on crime reduction and community safety. Like its predecessor, it says less about individual health and social outcomes. In the same month the United Kingdom Drug Policy Commission, (UKDPC), an independent think tank, published a major report on the drugs strategy and its key focus criminal justice.
The UKDPC report, commenting upon the rapid expansion in UK treatment provision, argued that the recent focus on quantity should now be replaced by a focus on quality. “There is a concern that an emphasis on reducing offending may cloud the focus on the individual and their recovery, leading to simply the ‘management of addiction’ with a view to containing offending behaviour.” Moving from the provision of “quantity” to the provision of “quality” may not be easy or straightforward. Do we, as a field, know how to make this transition?