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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Addicts Get Payouts for Kicking Drugs in Prison

The British government coughs up big bucks to prisoners who had to go cold turkey.


No day at the beach. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman


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The unpleasant experience of going cold turkey has proved lucrative for a number of British prisoners. Since 2007, the UK government has been forced to pay out nearly £300,000 ($479,000) across just six prisons in Lancashire, Northern England in settlements for forced drug withdrawal and related grievances. The addicted prisoners—many of whom claim to have kicked drugs while locked up as far back as the '90s—pursued their claims following a 2006 test case which established that forced withdrawal amounted to a breach of 
human rights. “The government has 
provided funding for prisons to deliver drug treatment 
programs to help offenders reduce or cease their addiction to drugs, mainly heroin and crack cocaine," says Martin Barnes, chief executive of the British charity DrugScope. “An important part of the treatment is the prescribing of drugs such as methadone and Buprenorphine to help stabilise individuals and begin the process of moving away from the use of illegal drugs. If prisons fail in their duty of care in this respect, 
individuals are entitled to seek compensation as would 
happen in other failures of medical care.” But government officials say they expect the payouts to provoke a backlash. “I think the public will be annoyed and frustrated at this, when victims of crime have compensation reduced while people who commit crimes receive 
compensation," says Lindsay Hoyle, a Labour Party MP.

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