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Politics/Current Affairs

High Street Vouchers For Reforming Drug Addicts

Sunday, January 28th, 2007 at 17:40 by Eliza E. Lanyard

An NHS body, studying treatment programmes from around the world, has come up with the idea that if drug users enrol in a treatment programme and show that they are not using drugs then they could get vouchers to spend on the High Street as a reward for their abstinence.

Apparently similar schemes have been tried in the US with promising results, one scheme giving out vouchers for burger chains. Of course, a UK implementation will probably focus on a more healthy lifestyle, encouraging reforming addicts to favour the supermarket over their nearest McDonalds or Burger King.

“Small incentives make a big difference” according to Mr Stephen Pilling, a consultant clinical psychologist from University College London who has been carrying out the research. It sounds quite a lot like bribery to me but he’s adamant that it’s ”a proper way to deal with people”.

He believed that of the estimated 50,000 addicts in Britain, up to 25,000 of them could benefit from such a scheme plus there would be a knock on benefit as less drug users equals less crime. I’m all for things that help people get off and stay off drugs but this seems one stage away from the naughty step to me.

I don’t have a drug addiction thankfully, but I do have quite a fondness for M&S treaty food so if anyone could offer any tips on how I might manufacture a past crack addiction, show I am no longer using it and thus get lots and lots of lovely vouchers to spend on sushi and other such wholesome treats, please let me know!

Although, knowing my luck, if the scheme goes ahead it won’t be M&S who sign up and all I’ll get for all my hard work and deception will be a few lousy money off coupons to spend in Netto’s.

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