Druglink article 2014 – 2008-2009 The Recovery Debate by Mike Ashton and Neil McKeganey

Around Guy Fawkes night in November 2007, a whole box of fireworks exploded in the face of the drug treatment system, when the BBC asserted that only 3% of those who went into treatment became ‘drug free’. There were arguments over the figures, but the fuse was lit for a Bonfire of the Vanities which raged over the coming months as to what recovery was all about.

Mike Ashton was first up with his forensic examination of the arguments put forward by those he dubbed ‘The New Abstentionists’. There was heated reaction to his points which were played out through the pages of Druglink and in a series of debates hosted by DrugScope through 2008. Eventually, there was the beginning of a consensus as to what constituted recovery in our sector, led by the UK Drug Policy Commission. The process eventually led to the publication of DrugScope’s Treatment at the Crossroads report of 2009.

The arrival of the new government heralded the era of Recovery and what some thought would be a full on attack against harm reduction and the treatment policies of recent years. However, the 2010 Drug Strategy was far more pragmatic and evidence-based than many had feared and so, for the most part, we have retained a balanced treatment system, albeit one under severe financial pressures.What follows are summaries and sections from articles published in Druglink during the early stages of the debate

2008-2009 The Recovery Debate (PDF)