Vogue Williams: We've lost the war on drugs - it's time for a new approach
WELL, the story in last week's Sunday World certainly caused a reaction.
A lot was written about the possibility of me taking a substance similar to LSD – in a controlled and legal environment – for my new TV series.
Regular readers know I have written a lot about issues around drug use, in particular about the introduction of injection rooms in Ireland. I think our drug culture is way out of control and the use of legal highs is becoming more popular, despite the closure of the head shops.
My show will be about drug use and addiction – they are not the same thing.
I was fascinated to see recent research at Imperial College London proving that LSD can actually have a beneficial effect on the brain. Doctors there have proved that it can even cure addiction!
My new series is still at the research stage so the content hasn't been finalised but because all psychoactive drugs are illegal, even the possibly beneficial ones are demonised - which I find that interesting.
Jon Snow did a TV Social Experiment for Channel 4 called Drugs Live where he smoked Skunk – a very potent strain of cannabis.
I have to admit the effects didn't look like fun to me. My show will in no way be promoting drug use but it will question whether criminalisation just causes bigger problems.
Kids are buying drugs online without knowing what's in them. In Europe they have 'drug check' teams in nightclubs where you can have the content and potency of your pills tested. It's a grown-up response to the problem of overdose.
I have seen what heavy drug use can do to a person and how easily they can ruin someone's life. I think it is important to highlight the downsides too.
The rise in use of legal chemical highs is frightening and some of these substances can have a worse effect than the drugs they mimic, which baffles me.
But the bottom line is this: the war on drugs is over and it seems that the drugs have won, so it's time for us as a nation to face the issue in an adult fashion. Ireland is hopefully introducing injection rooms to give heroin users a fighting chance of staying healthy, with clean needles and health staff at hand.
Some addicts will sadly always be addicts and we have to accept that some heroin users don't want to stop using, so isn't a controlled environment to inject in better than shooting up in a dank alley?
As part of my series I'll be going on to the streets with The Simon Community's amazing Rough Sleeper Team, who are helping homeless addicts to try and stay healthy.
Fact is, it's too often not the drugs that kill people, it's the neglect of a society that criminalises and marginalises them, and I think that's the far bigger crime.