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In depth: Drugs of dependence - the role of medical professionals

Time for fresh views on drugs

The BMA believes the policy debate on illegal drugs has overlooked the medical perspective for too long

What we are seeking...

red tickTo debate the most effective approach to preventing and reducing the harms associated with illegal drug use and drug-control policies, based on an independent and objective review of the evidence.

What works in reducing drug misuse?  

red tickTo encourage dialogue between the medical profession and policy makers, legislators, the police, service providers and academics who have knowledge and expertise in this area.

One doctor's account of treating drug users 

red tickTo examine the doctor's role in the medical management of drug dependence and the ethical challenges of working within the criminal justice system.

Best practice and the doctor's role in wider society


News coverage

All coverage below has been published since Tuesday 15 Jan 2013

People who take illegal drugs 'shouldn't be treated as criminals'
The Telegraph

UK drug policy must centre on health, says BMA
GP Online

UK drugs policy needs stronger health focus
Hospital Dr

UK drug policy must have stronger health focus

BBC Radio 4 - World Tonight
(from 30:18)

Averil Mansfield interview on 6 O'clock and 10 O'clock news
(drug debate from 22:35, Averil Mansfield from 29:28)

Vivienne Nathanson interview on BBC 5 Live

GPs urged to tackle drug-abuse patients
Doctors must confront patients they suspect of using illegal drugs and offer them treatment without fear of prosecution.
The Times (*subscription required)

Treating drug addiction as illness is the way forward
The BMA wants doctors' role in "preventing and reducing the harms associated with illicit drug use" to be examined, along with policies to control illicit drug use.
The Times (*subscription required)

Doctors say UK drug policy should focus more on health
BBC News

Drugs users 'fear calling 999'

Ecstasy 'is safer than fags, booze and coffee'
The Sun

Addicts are patients first

Averil Mansfield "Those who fall into drug dependence become a medical problem from which we, as a society, cannot escape and they badly need our help"

Foreword by Professor Averil Mansfield

Join the debate

Let's put health at the heart of drugs policies

We want to hear about your views on the report and how you think we should take this debate forward.

Join the debate



Drugs ignorance helps nobody

One priority highlighted in the debate about the future of UK drug policy is the need to improve medical schools’ patchy and uncoordinated education about drugs.

Drugs are often considered commonplace in student life


Assessing the scale and impact of illegal use

Approximately 10 per cent of drug users are considered 'problem drug users'.

What is the social and economical impact of illegal drug use?


Search for consensus in global drugs debate

Doctors leaders want clinicians to play a key role in shaping the debate about the healthiest options for society when it comes to illegal drugs.

Current UK drug policy should be explored


Key dates in drug control

See our timeline of key dates in drug control dating back to the 19th century.

Drug control timeline

Have your say

As a doctor, do you feel appropriately equipped to deal with a patient who presents with a drug problem?

Horizontal radio button group question

Download the report

Drugs of dependence: The role of medical professionals

Get the full report, individual chapters or purchase a hard copy.

Download the report

Tell us your story

Tell us about your experiences of dealing with patients as drug addicts.

Email us your views

BMA news and views

Follow our coverage of the Drugs of dependence report:

Useful links

Need help on how to deal with a patient who is a drug addict?

Get advice on what to do