Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 11:00 UK

Is the war against drugs working?

Drug user
The study says authorities should focus on the social impact of drugs

Drug seizures have little impact on the amount of narcotics on Britain's streets, according to a think-tank report.

Two men with very different experiences of the drugs world tell their stories and offer their views.


Darren, from Braintree, Essex, is schools team leader with the charity Drugsline (0808 1 606 606).

I was a heroin addict from the age of 22 to 28. It completely devastated my life.

Initially I started with cannabis just before my 15th birthday. But after I suffered physical abuse in a young offender's institution I was introduced to heroin.

All I wanted to do was blot out the pain, but it took over everything.

Darren Gold
When one dealer hasn't got any drugs then another one does

There was always heroin around.

Very occasionally you would have trouble with supply - you'd have a shortage of drugs.

But more often than not, when one dealer hasn't got any drugs then another one does.

Eventually I'd lost what I considered to be the battle to live. It was just a matter of time before I was going to overdose.

Fortunately, I managed to get onto a rehab programme in prison. So now I'm determined to help young people avoid making the same mistakes as me.

I'm not saying that money should be taken away from enforcement. You have to have it.

But so little cash is put into education, and I can see from the work I do with Drugsline what a difference it can make.


Regular cannabis user Russell, of Manchester, believes government crackdowns are doomed to failure.

I've smoked cannabis regularly for three years, and the so-called war on drugs has never affected me at all.

The only time I even think about getting caught is if I'm at an open-air gig and I fancy a joint. Even then, I'll usually see lots of other people doing the same.

I'm about as far from the stereotype of a drug user as it's possible to get. I'm middle-class, the director of three companies, and I've never broken the law in my life - other than the law on drugs.

Each week I suppose my fiancée and I spend about £40 on cannabis - maybe a little more in the summer, when I like to smoke it out on my balcony. That's a lot less than many people I know put away on alcohol.

Russell Jones
I'd rather it was licensed and monitored so I knew what I was buying

If there have been crackdowns and seizures, I haven't noticed it in the price - which is quite good going when you look at how much food and petrol has gone up.

It annoys me that, at 38 years of age, the government can tell me what I can and can't smoke.

My GP knows I use it, and told me that if it hadn't adversely affected me in the first weeks, it never would.

The only problems I encounter come from cannabis being illegal. In the past I've had to go to some rather shady characters.

I don't like the fact that the money I'm spending is going to gangsters or al-Qaeda or whoever.

I'm not interesting in stronger drugs like heroin and cocaine. But it seems to me that keeping them illegal only makes things worse.

People are always going to take them, whatever the government says.

If they were provided on prescription to addicts, then you wouldn't have all the crime associated with people trying to feed their habits.

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