Home > General Politics, Local Democracy > The spending cuts will produce many more tragedies like that of Amy Winehouse

The spending cuts will produce many more tragedies like that of Amy Winehouse

You would not have been able to turn a newspaper page or log on to your social networking sites yesterday without reading more about the tragic death of Amy Winehouse, a well regarded singer, troubled soul, and just 27 years of age.

Her drink and drug problem were well known, and though it is not confirmed, is believed to be the reason for her eventual demise. The Mail have reported that Winehouse was spotted buying drugs from a well known dealer in Camden – where the singer lived – while friends told the paper they believe it was a dodgy Ecstasy tablet which caused her death.

Though tragedies such as this occur all too frequently with young people, it often requires a high-profile case to wake the government up in order that they act.

But this government are doing the precise opposite. The independent drugs monitoring body DrugScope have published a report, the findings of which show how increasingly hard it is for young people to access drug and alcohol help, now that youth services are being cut and young people’s treatment services are being closed down altogether – like in the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Newham and Merton.

The Drug Education Forum will also lose its funding from the Department of Education (DoE) from November.

This is very revealing of the flawed approach this government are taking with regards to prevention services. It is almost universally uncontested that investment in early intervention for services like drug and alcohol help, saves money in the long run. The government’s own reports are producing these exact findings too. Research conducted in February by the DoE concluded that for every £1 spent on treatment between £5 and £8 is saved by the NHS and other agencies, including for mental health services.

How public sector finances are controlled needs a massive culture change from the one where long-term investment is considered far riskier than short-term solutions at short-term prices (cheaper in the here and now, but costlier in the long run). With stinging public sector cutbacks, this culture is here to stay, but at a cost to important services that stop people from falling through the net.

Tanya Gold wrote yesterday:

Thousands like Winehouse die every year, and they are not venerated, or even pitied. We will not educate ourselves about the disease, or reform drug laws that plunge addicts into a shadow-world of criminality and dependence on criminals. Winehouse got away with too much said one copper, after a tape of her using was released. Did she? Did she really? Winehouse walked barefoot through the streets because that is where the drugs were, and even as her bewildered face splatters across the front pages, drug support charities are closing, expendable in this era of thrift.

It should not take for something like this to nudge the government into taking action – not least because it highlights the strange role celebrity has in this country, and the industry of watching people run themselves into the ground for entertainment – but something needed to happen. The DoE should now concern itself with trying to reduce the many more tragedies that will occur as a result of their cuts agenda.

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  1. TruthHurts
    July 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    And yet, thousands (in actuality, hundreds of thousands!) of benefit recipients also claim additional funds supporting their habits. An alcoholic is entitled to more Job Centre benefit than a single, out-of-work parent. You think the system is flawed by way of removing the services which help users to come off the drug, so wouldn’t a better idea be to remove the additional benefits they receive, with which they’re able to continue using, and allocate those funds to these services?.

    Better still tighten the drinking laws (after all, alcohol is the cause of more deaths than any other drug, not just in the UK, but worldwide when you consider binge fueled fighting and drink driving accidents) and port/border security which currently lets slip masses of Class A, B and C substances through our borders.

    Why is it you want to tackle these problems, much like every politician, from a reactionary stand point? When will we have a leader, just one, with the conviction to order a preemptive approach in preventing the substances from actually entering the country? But, of course, without drugs we wouldn’t need this war on drugs, crime would significantly lower and prisons, many of which are being privatized, would lay dormant as opposed to the stark overcrowding we see today, mostly for minor drug offenses – what would we do with all that additional tax money (and, what would the troops protecting poppy farming in Afghanistan do?).

    Labour government did no more to lessen the drink/drug problem than the current government. Same dragon, different heads. The entire system needs a ‘reset’ button and an out from the corporate protection racket we have had in power for hundreds of years.

  2. July 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    TruthHurts

    Better still tighten the drinking laws (after all, alcohol is the cause of more deaths than any other drug, not just in the UK, but worldwide when you consider binge fueled fighting and drink driving accidents) and port/border security which currently lets slip masses of Class A, B and C substances through our borders.

    Your view is based on the assumption that prohibition will succeed if we just try hard enough.

    Experience – 1920s USA; War on Drugs; Russia’s current situation – has repeatedly show us otherwise.

    A better suggestion – which, to be honest, you hint at in the end of your 4th paragraph – would to be to have a regulated legal system. After all, such a system, i.e. treating currently-illegal drugs like booze & cigarettes, would fulfil your requirements

    But, of course, without [illegal] drugs we wouldn’t need this war on drugs, crime would significantly lower and prisons, many of which are being privatized, would lay dormant as opposed to the stark overcrowding we see today, mostly for minor drug offenses – what would we do with all that additional tax money (and, what would the troops protecting poppy farming in Afghanistan do?).

    for little overall cost, and at a significant reduction in cost to the current system.

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