Addicts up for food voucher rewards

DRUG addicts in Weston could soon be getting food vouchers as a reward for staying off illegal substances like heroin and cocaine. The idea is being

DRUG addicts in Weston could soon be getting food vouchers as a reward for staying off illegal substances like heroin and cocaine. The idea is being looked at by a specialist drug and alcohol service which is based in the town centre as part of a pilot scheme in conjunction with the NHS.The Addiction Recovery Agency in the Boulevard has been selected by the National Treatment Agency to be one of 20 organisations in the UK to trial the system of rewards known as 'contingency treatment'.The system hit national headlines this week after a survey of drug treatment centres found some had been rewarding addicts with methadone, a heroin substitute.Agency director Peter Walker says that will not happen at his centre.He said: "At the moment we do not know what shape the pilot is going to take. Research in the US shows that the use of food vouchers can help people to meet treatment goals."Some people who are drug users are not looking after themselves and food vouchers will address the issue. It would be an idea to help improve people's lifestyles."Working with drug misusers is a very complex business and there is not a large body of evidence in this country about what works."That is why we are happy to take part in this trial."However, the 'take-home' doses of methadone was never acceptable and will certainly not be used by us."National Treatment Agency (NTA) chief executive Paul Hayes also condemned the use of drugs as a reward. He said: "The dose that people get ought to be determined by the individual's needs not whether they're cooperating with the regime."Mr Walker will hold a meeting with the NTA next month to determine which aspects of contingency treatment will be used in Weston and at its outlets across North Somerset.If you would like to find out more about the Addiction Recovery Agency call 0117 930 0282 or email info@addictionrecovery.org.uk


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