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Psychiatry and the global drugs debate: New article published by CNWL staff

10 October 2019

CNWL's Dr Owen Bowden-Jones and Prof Anne Lingford-Hughes have contributed to an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry about the role of psychiatry within the global drugs debate.

In the summary, the article states: "There are few topics that divide public opinion as sharply as the use of psychoactive substances and it is easy to see why.

"Substance use is complex and can be examined from numerous perspectives, including legal, health, economic, cultural and
ethical. These varying approaches can lead to a range of different conclusions. Here we explore some of the common approaches adopted towards drug policy and suggest a number of principles, which may inform a psychiatrist’s own view."

As a point of principle, the article says that psychiatrists should always scrutinise the available evidence to understand what it is telling us and to challenge incorrect assumptions.

"Given the evidence for effectiveness, the recent disinvestment of addiction treatment services is cause for great concern," the article says and concludes: "As psychiatrists, our role is to advocate for people with SUDs by understanding and articulating what the evidence tell us, supporting clinically proven, cost-effective services and protecting the clinical expertise needed to deliver them."

Dr Bowden-Jones is a Consultant Psychiatrist for CNWL and founder of the Club Drug Clinic. Prof. Lingford-Hughes is Professor of Addiction Biology and Head of Psychiatry at Imperial College London and an addiction psychiatrist at CNWL. Prof. Julia Sinclair, who also contributed is Professor of Addiction Psychiatry and Chair of the Addiction Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The article can be read by clicking here.