Note - Report of the Interdepartmental Committee On Drug Addiction, United Kingdom

Abstract

The Interdepartmental Committee on Drug Addiction was appointed on 3 June 1958, to review, in the light of more recent developments, the advice given by the Departmental Committee on Morphine and Heroin Addiction in 1926; to consider whether any revised advice should also cover drugs liable to produce addiction or to be habit-forming; to consider whether there is a medical need to provide special, including institutional, treatment outside the resources already available, for persons addicted to drugs; and to make recommendations, including proposals for any administrative measures that may seem expedient, to the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Details

Pages: 41 to 41
Creation Date: 1962/01/01

Note - Report of the Interdepartmental Committee On Drug Addiction, United Kingdom

The Interdepartmental Committee on Drug Addiction was appointed on 3 June 1958, to review, in the light of more recent developments, the advice given by the Departmental Committee on Morphine and Heroin Addiction in 1926; to consider whether any revised advice should also cover drugs liable to produce addiction or to be habit-forming; to consider whether there is a medical need to provide special, including institutional, treatment outside the resources already available, for persons addicted to drugs; and to make recommendations, including proposals for any administrative measures that may seem expedient, to the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The members of the Committee were Sir Russell Brain, Bart., M.A., D.M., F.R.C.P.; A. Lawrence Abel, M.S., F.R.C.S.; Sir Derrick Dunlop, M.D., F.R.C.P. Ed., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.E.; Donald W. Hudson, M.P.S.; A. D. Macdonald, M.Sc., M.D.; A. H. Macklin, O.B.E., M.C., T.D., M.D.; S. Noy Scott, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.; M. A. Partridge, M.A., D.M., D.P.M.

Sir Russell Brain was appointed Chairman of the Committee. Roy Goulding, M.D., B.Sc., and W.G. Honnor, I.S.O., were the secretaries of the Committee.

The Committee held eleven meetings, and made a final report on 29 November 1960. The following is a summary of the conclusions and recommendations made by the Committee:

  1. In Great Britain the incidence of addiction to drugs controlled under the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1951, is still very small and traffic in illicit supplies is almost negligible, cannabis excepted. This is mainly due to the attitude of the public and to the systematic enforcement of the Dangerous Drugs legislation.

  2. While there is no registration of addicts, nor any official allocation of drugs to them on that basis, the departmental arrangements ensure that nearly all addicts to dangerous drugs are known.

  3. Addiction should be regarded as an expression of mental disorder rather than a form of criminal behaviour.

  4. Satisfactory treatment of addiction is possible only in suitable institutions, but compulsory committal of an addict to such an institution is not desirable.

  5. There is no advantage in abrupt withdrawal of a drug from a patient.

  6. As the problem is small, the establishment of specialized institutions exclusively for the treatment of drug addiction is not practicable. Initial treatment of an established addict is best undertaken in the psychiatric ward of a general hospital.

  7. Long-term supervision would best be undertaken at selected centres, at which facilities for research might be provided.

  8. Continued support and guidance should be available locally when a patient leaves hospital.

  9. Long-term results of treatment of addiction appear to be disappointing, but the information available is limited.

  10. A system of registration of addicts would not be desirable or helpful.

  11. It is doubtful whether a person who is unable to abandon a drug originally prescribed for a condition which still persists should be described as an addict. It is accepted that such a person may be able to lead a reasonably satisfactory life on a small and regular dose of a narcotic drug but may be unable to do so if it be withdrawn.

  12. The Home Secretary should not establish medical tribunals to investigate the grounds for recommending him to withdraw a doctor's authority to possess and supply dangerous drugs.

  13. Irregularities in prescribing of dangerous drugs are infrequent and would not justify further statutory controls.

  14. A doctor should obtain a second medical opinion before deciding to prescribe a dangerous drug for a lengthy period; and should give only a limited supply of a dangerous drug to a patient temporarily under his care in the absence of a letter from the patient's own doctor.

  15. No advantage would arise from the use of distinctive prescription forms for dangerous drugs.

  16. Student instruction on dangerous drugs is generally adequate; but over-emphasis on the dangers of addiction may discourage the use of such drugs in cases where their need is paramount.

  17. The essential features of the Home Office memorandum on dangerous drugs could be presented in a more readable form. It should be sent to all doctors in practice.

  18. Further statutory powers to control new analgesic drugs are not needed at present. There is insufficient justification for withholding them from distribution until they have been approved by some central authority, but any drug likely to be addictive should be tested for this possibility at the instance of the manufacturers before release.

  19. Cannabis has practically no therapeutic use and its control is not a medical matter within the Committee's terms of reference.

  20. There has been substantial increase in the use of drugs affecting the central nervous system, which are potentially habit forming. While the position requires careful watching, no further control is needed at present.