The real story

This is what the story should be about. Russell Brand’s tribute to Amy Winehouse is heartfelt, and nicely written. But the real message is vitally important.

The way this country deals with drugs and addiction is ridiculous. It doesn’t work. It’s run by non-expert politicians, who ignore scientists and doctors, and are terrified of the Daily Mail readers whose sterile and squeaky-clean lives never come into contact with drug addiction or alcoholism. It’s easy to sit in an ivory tower and pass judgement, condemning addicts to jail or worse.

Yes, Amy Winehouse and all other addicts make a decision to take a drug – be that an illegal drug like crack cocaine, or a legal drug like alcohol or valium. But addiction is a disease, and it can be treated. If we can be bothered.

This is not a leftie hand-wringing liberal view; it’s a fact. Instead of reading the popular press (whose journalists are, by and large, not medical experts) or listening to Auntie Joan from Surburbia, go and speak to some doctors. Experts in addiction. Read some research. It’s all there on the internet (the wonderful resource that it is).

Oh, and treating addiction is much cheaper than jail, too. And as an aside: quite a lot of prisoners go into jail clean, and come out addicted to something. That’s not right.

So next time you sneer, or roll your eyes at a junkie or alcoholic, take a moment to think about how the problem could be fixed. Listen to words from a recovering addict.

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