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Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world


From War to Work: Drug Treatment, Social Inclusion and Enterprise

[Cover of From War to Work: Drug Treatment, Social Inclusion and Enterprise]

Rowena Young


March 2002

Download the report (640 kilobyte PDF)

This important new report is a fresh voice in the stale debate over drug policy. It claims that the 'war on drugs' has failed because it only tackles the symptoms of drug addiction and drug related crime, and doesn't deal with the poverty and marginalization which are at its root. Taking lessons from drug rehabilitation projects in South East Asia, it suggests training, work and social enterprise combined with treatment, as the best long-term ways to help addicts.

It claims that millions of pounds are being wasted every year on tackling Britain's drugs problem. The report highlights how the debate has become polarised between those advocating increased policing and incarceration, and those who favour the treatment model and approach drug addiction as a disease. It presents research to demonstrate that neither group has had much impact on the soaring number of problem drug users and shows that even education has had a very limited effect.

From War to Work takes lessons from drug rehabilitation projects in South East Asia where training, work and social enterprise are combined with treatment to help addicts regain control of their lives, find networks of support and overcome their dependency. It sets out comprehensive recommendations for how this model could be applied in Britain.

The report argues that the vast majority of people are able to use drugs without harmful effects. It recommends that the government focuses on problematic drug use and drug related crime, both nationally and internationally, and relaxes its stance towards recreational use among those for whom drugs are unlikely to become a problem.

Rowena Young is Development Director of Kaleidoscope, the UK's leading one-stop drug treatment agency. With a thirty year track record of success, it has long been recognised by national and international policy makers as an innovative and effective model of good practice. With the launch of a web production company providing training and jobs for drug users, it is currently one of only six lesson-learning projects working with the UK Anti-Drug Co-Ordination Unit and the Employment Service to forge more effective pathways to work.

"This report will spark major debate" The Observer
"Should be actively debated in Whitehall and Parliament" Voice of the Mirror (The Mirror)