In prisons, on our poorest housing schemes, even in the archetypal leafy suburbs of Britain, the war on drugs has long been lost. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 3,744 record deaths from drug abuse last year, the worst figure since 1993, when Britain was just coming down from a fashion for acid house raves. Today it is synthetic opioids and so-called “legal highs” – in fact now illegal – that are driving this depressing trend. Fentanyl, an ultra-powerful medical and surgical painkiller, is the latest to turn up on the scene.
Every time the authorities open up a new front in their misbegotten battle against the inevitable, they lose. Or rather, the victims of drug abuse and the victims of the criminals who profit from the trade lose, and sometimes grievously.7
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