This week I read an interesting blog post by Toby Seddon entitled ‘The politics of recovery’. The article draws the comparison between previous crime reduction and harm reduction strategies that have now given way to a more recovery orientated agenda in formulating modern drug policy. The tone of this piece is one of scepticism outlining that continuity is often king, and that recent policies have much in common with their predecessors on a strategic level. So where does this leave the implementation of a recovery agenda on the front line, and more importantly in our local communities?
Debates around Harm Reduction vs. Abstinence have raged on for many a year, with some holding the opinion that a harm reduction approach can be divisive in terms of effective recovery (Harm reduction vs. recovery: the false dichotomy). However, could it not be argued that recovery including (for some) abstinence is the ultimate harm reduction tool? The effective delivery of recovery initiatives in the community, and a culture change at the grass roots of treatment service delivery could tip the balance. If we are to achieve a ‘Paradigm Shift’ in the long term development of drug policy in the UK, then a combined effort of government, treatment services and the community will be required to put some meat on the bones of a recovery agenda.
Initial feedback from service users in Maidstone is very positive and there is a genuine excitement about the prospect of some of the programmes that are on offer here. Many have stated that this is the first time that they feel ‘the system’ really recognises the needs of those that are using it. In reality it is still early days but the initial projection for Whole Person Recovery in Maidstone is good, so could this be the preverbal ‘long shot that might just work’ for the government in regard to shaping a better and more inclusive society for all in the future?