[Q.1.] After the end of the Second World War in 1946 the US adopted a strict ruling against substance (drug) abuse. This period was characterised by a strict enforcement policy and the mood was against rehabilitation but more that of incarceration in mental asylums. It was not until 1961 that the State of California passed legislation that addressed the treatment of drug addicts and as such established the California Civil Addicts program. The rate of drug abuse in the USA has increased dramatically to present day standards. Although methadone remains the treatment of choice for heroin addicts, the USA offers other treatment options that include the use of buprenorphine and therapeutic treatments for treating the addiction. (NIDA, 2010).
In the UK the favoured method of treatment for heroin addicts is by the prescription of methadone. The conservative leader David Cameron has been a critic of the policy – too many people proved that they were unable to get rid of their cocaine addiction. (Cameron, 2010). In England it has been estimated that there are 330,000 people addicted to heroin, crack cocaine or both. It has been estimated that this costs the UK taxpayer some £15 billion per annum and in addition £13.9 billion of criminal activity related to drug abuse offenders.
[Q.2. ] The traditional approach to drug abuse was to treat addicts as those suffering from mental illness and to remove them from society into asylums. This was a social exclusion approach in terms of removing them from society and treating this as abnormal behaviour. The current approach is to recognise drug addiction as an illness and to get the people on rehabilitation programs by using the help of society. This philosophy is more one of inclusion than that of exclusion. This is not without its problems though. Needle exchanges have helped in eliminating the threat of disease spread like that of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.
It is interesting to note that approximately half a million heroin addicts land up in jail each year. A majority of those in jail do not receive medical treatment for their addiction. The World Health Authority issued guidelines that stated the prisons should offer appropriate medical treatment to addicts. It is clear that most prisons are not abiding by these guidelines. The addicts also eventually get released from jail without any referral to medication or health support. This sees them back on the streets and resorting to criminal activities in order to feed the habit. Subsequently these people find themselves back in jail and so the vicious cycle continues. America is at the front of the world’s drug problem – On average Americans account for some 60 per cent of world drug consumption with 23+ million users of marijuana. (American Council for Drug Education, 1999)
American Council for Drug Education. (1999). Why woory about drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Retrieved 1 8, 2012, from http://www.acde.org/employer/DAwork.htm
Cameron, D. (2010). Will Conservative plans to overhaul heroin addiction treatment work? . Retrieved 1 1, 2012, from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/apr/20/conservatives-heroin-addiction-treatment-overhaul
NIDA. (2010). What are the treatments? Retrieved 1 1, 2012, from NIDA: http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/heroin/heroin5.html