Harm Reduction or Harm Enabling – Who is Funding this and to what end?
Stirling University’s two-year drug checking project, despite the backing of Scottish Drug policy minister Elena Whitham, reveals a troubling inadequacy in its approach. The project, which aimed to delve into drug use patterns, disappointingly managed to interview only 11 drug users. This number is shockingly low, especially considering the gravity of the drug use issue. If I were Elena, I would be questioning the value received for the funding provided.
Organisation: University of Stirling Amount Awarded: £300,082 Split over 2 years
Details of Project: Researching and developing key components of a new Scottish drug checking programme. This two-year project (18th Nov 2020-17th Nov 2022) aims to directly address two of the six evidence-based strategies identified by the Drug Deaths Taskforce to help reduce drug related deaths: targeting people most at risk, and optimising public health surveillance.
… it’s startling to see that a study credited to 13 authors managed to engage only 11 drug users. This significant discrepancy raises questions about the study’s methodological rigor and ethical integrity. One would expect a higher degree of accountability and professional responsibility from the authors.
This study exemplifies a broader, problematic trend in the field: a tendency for mutual endorsement among like-minded professionals, creating an ‘echo chamber’ effect. This not only limits the scope of academic inquiry but also hinders the progression of the field. When research priorities shift towards promoting personal networks and careers over genuine knowledge advancement, it does a disservice to the discipline and those affected by addiction
Additionally, the creation of the Minister for Drugs Strategy position in December 2020 has not brought about the necessary changes in drug policy or outcomes. This continued trend of escalating fatalities underlines the inadequacy of the current strategy. It suggests a fundamental rethinking is required in both leadership and approach to effectively address and reverse this grave public health crisis.