Let the Addicts Kill Themselves, Says Professor

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Byline: PAUL RIDDELL

A LEADING academic drew an angry reaction from drug campaigners yesterday when he called for the legalisation of heroin to stop addicts portraying themselves as helpless victims.

John Davies, professor of psychology at Strathclyde University, said i f users wanted to kill themselves by taking heroin they should be left alone to do so.

Professor Davies, 54, said addicts opted for drugs like heroin because they enjoyed them, but were quick to claim 'illness' and forfeit their own responsibility when they got into difficulties. He said 'The idea of the helpless junkie is something which bears much closer relationship to the legal context than we'd like to think,' he said: 'The legal context makes "the helpless junkie" strategically the best way to present yourself. If you get into trouble with your drug problem, because you're a helpless addict it's not your fault.' He added: 'If you change the law, as they did with homosexuality, it suddenly stops being a disease for which people get treatment and becomes something that people do as a matter of choice.'

However, George Hall, acting director of Scotland Against Drugs, said he was 'amazed' at any suggestion that harmful drugs should be made freely available.

'Professor Davies should come down from his academic ivory tower and live in the real world,' he said.

'Entire communities are being destroyed by today's drugs culture.'

Professor Davies, who helped pioneer the first programme to give prisoners methadone to help them come off heroin at Saughton Prison in Edinburgh, said: 'Once they go into treatment, people start talking like addicts. …