Drugs and Prostitution

Not quite Vicki:

Something must be done. It\’s obvious to me, if not to others, that what must be done is not "reducing the demand" or tightening up the prostitution laws (thus making it harder for women to take responsibility for their own safety) or banging up punters or "ending the world\’s sex industry" or any other highfalutin soundbite – but dealing with the drugs.

We have a muddled and messy drugs policy in this country. (I\’m not surprised: we have a muddled and messy alcohol policy.) Ipswich police are doing their best to handle the acute situation in which they\’ve found themselves. They\’re lifting girls off the street, offering them methadone (that won\’t help, but let it lie), driving busily about to frighten off punters (that won\’t help long-term, either). They can\’t draw the obvious conclusion about £120 bags being worth four to six horrible encounters every night (either give them the damn bags, or lots and lots of very expensive rehab at the taxpayers\’ expense) because we\’d need a "Swedish model" of state funding to do so.

Not quite. The cost of that heroin is vastly inflated by its very illegality. A few months back I went and looked up the price of diamorphine in the NHS formulary (I think that\’s the right word). Enough to keep a determined addict happy costs about £20 a day.

At first glance simply giving addicts (depends upon who you believe, perhaps 40,000 registered ones, 400,000 in total seem likely numbers) their dose is wildly impractical: £900,000 to £9 million a day,  over £3 billion a year at the top end.

However, when offset against the reduction in costs of the crime caused by addicts, the abuses of our civil liberties, the prostitution mentioned, it all begins to sound rather cheap. Overall we\’d be spending less than we do already, that I\’m certain of.

9 thoughts on “Drugs and Prostitution”

  1. That £20 per day sounds a bit much to me though I have no idea how much the average addict uses per day. Other savings would be on the costs of agent Orange in Afghanistan, and surely there would be some form of prescription charge…

  2. I agree, £20 for a semi-synthetic drug which is one step removed from a natural product produced in high yield by an agricultural crop is bonkers. But then try getting a license to be a diamorphine producer and you will see it’s regulation and reduced competition that leads to the £20 figure. In reality I would plug £2 a dose into the calculation which makes the argument all the more compelling……..

  3. £20 is way too high. Other people reckon basic cost of heroin (the proper stuff) a few pence a shot, plus retailer’s mark up, a bit of tax on top (price inelastic demand + social costs = it is OK to tax it) is not more than £2. Or £3 including a new needle.

    And that Brunstrom chappy reckoned about half of all crime is drug related.

    Tim adds: I’m not going to redo the research but that £20 comes from what the NHS budgets internally for diamorphine. I found it on a page where a doctor treating addicts was discussing the cost differences between using methadone and diamorphine.

  4. And plus if you were buying in bulk like that you could wean the poppy farmers in Afghanistan onto your side because you would almost certainly be able to pay more per kilo for poppies than the smugglers would.

  5. For info only.

    You may be thinking of the BNF, British National Formulary which is a basic drugs guidebook used or at least to hand for every GP in the land.

    Or not.



  6. So Much For Subtlety

    The assumption here is an implicit acceptance of your average heroin addicts self-serving self justification – that the heroin makes them do it (and of course they have no control over that because they never made a conscious decision to use and still don’t).

    The study I have seen of giving addicts heroin is that it cuts their offending somewhat but it does not prevent it. The question is whether addicts are scumbags because of the drugs or they are using drugs because they are scumbags. Let me come down firmly on the side of the latter. They are amoral scumbags. By and large. If they got their heroin for free they would still be amoral scumbags and they would still be ripping off my DVD player.

    So the costs to society, as far as I can see, are purely imaginary.

  7. Heroin can vary in price….
    I have recently worked on a program following a drug addict she spends at least £90 a day to feed her heroin and crack habbit, £30 of that being heroin at £10, she does not inject heroin but smokes it.
    No one should actually oppose any persons opion on the matter of drug costs unless they use themselves.

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