Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Joe South (DP194)

My name is Joe South and I would very much like to have the opportunity of sharing my professional and personal experiences drug addiction with your committee.

I am a recovering heroin addict and I have been free of my addiction to both hard drugs and alcohol for thirty one years. I founded Rhoserchan, an addictions treatment centre in Wales, and then ran it successfully for ten years. I have published pieces in professional journals, newspapers and made several radio and television appearances on the subject of addiction. Rhoserchan and I were the subject of SSC 2s “Your Life In Their Hands” series, “Nowhere Else To Go.” I am also the author of “Poppy Dream—the story of an English addict,” my autobiography.

Currently I am worried by the alarming spread of drug and alcohol use amongst people in all sections of society. In particular I am concerned by the effect of drug use upon children growing up in the homes of addicted parents. I include the use of cannabis in this group. Coupled with the increasing dependency on junk food the future does not look bright for a large section of our community.

If governments thoroughly understood the nature of addiction and addict behaviour then the problem would be much more easily solved. It is because of this ignorance or lack of awareness that the solution seems so difficult to find.

I believe that the situation is so serious that we should be considering increasing our attempts to police drug crime rather than considering the legalisation of drugs. My personal and professional experience shows me quite clearly that the nature of addiction is such that it can never be satisfied by providing legal or prescribed amounts and that the addiction rates would quickly escalate to out of control heights. We can see some evidence of this with the Dutch and Swiss experiments.

I firmly believe that the illegal drug trade will only be reduced when the governments begin to treat the war on drugs as a legitimate war using the same funding, resources and manpower that would be used in a conventional modern war. It is true that around 10% of the population of the western world cause most of our drug and alcohol problems but sadly education is not an effective tool with this obsessive/compulsive group. In short, the answer lies in removing the drugs rather than teaching our children to co-exist with them.

I do hope that you will give me the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience in more detail with you and I look forward to your reply.

July 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012