Money lenders and Methadone – what are they thinking?!

Money lenders and Methadone – what are they thinking?!

Well whoopee, someone in government has finally woken up and realised what any right minded person with half a brain has known for years. No it’s not just that we are in recession. Someone has actually concluded that there are hordes of low life short term money lenders who need regulating.

This is not a new phenomenon, but these leaches who prey on the vulnerable in our society have certainly become more prevalent in recent years. Apparently, if you borrow £250 for 28 days, the average amount you must pay back is £340. A whopping £90 in interest which then of course you can’t pay back either, so you have to go somewhere else to get the £340. Eventually, if you go on long enough the £250 debt can become many thousands of pounds and it really doesn’t take that long.

Let’s get real about all this. These parasites don’t want regulating they want stringing up. Anyone who has to borrow £250 to survive needs help managing their finances, not a reassurance from some government body that a group like this are going to be regulated. I have seen one report where a consumer who borrowed £250 ended up borrowing 64 times and now owes way in excess of twenty thousand pounds. Clearly there is something fundamentally wrong in our society when these lowlife are allowed to operate quite openly and it seems within the law. How many adverts do we see on daytime television aimed presumably at the unemployed and vulnerable offering unsecured loans?

It has long been the case whereby it has been simple to run up credit card debts and then simply switch to another card, then to another and another all masked by the respectability of the big banks. However, in recent years we have seen an explosion of small unsecured loan sharks operating with impunity in our midst. I have spent a fair bit of time working with heroin addicts and other drug users. It is a regular occurrence, and I do mean regular, for a street loan shark to take the benefit card from an addict for a day or two. The addict will be lent enough for a fix and will only get their card back when the benefit is drawn and the parasite lowlife lender has taken the full amount of the addicts benefit.

I was heartened to see that Hove MP Mike Weatherley, (sorry Mike, and Portslade), has taken the bull by the horns and begun a proper drugs debate in our city. High time somebody did and he needs to be applauded. I attended an all day debate at Hove Town hall on the 30th September which got a bit lively to say the least. There were a number of speakers, some of whom were very knowledgeable and were a real inspiration. The trouble is that there are numerous good people out there doing their level best to get people off drugs, many of them very successfully, but on the whole going totally unrecognised by the official government agencies who are largely ineffective.

There was a huge furore a couple of years ago as to whether Methadone had a 2% or 3% success rate. Apart from government funded schemes who seem to think this is something to crow about, the rest of those involved with ridding society of this scourge realise that there is no point just prescribing an addict methadone. It is essential that you help the addict address the reasons they started taking drugs in the first place. Only then do you stand any chance of successfully getting them back as a useful member of society.

A heroin addict can be weaned off heroin, but once you get them on methadone it is necessary to have a medical detox which is much more difficult and unpleasant. So why do we do it? The answer is simple. It is then possible, once this legal drug is prescribed, for the government agency to claim the addict is receiving treatment. Another box can then be ticked by one of these people who think they are doing a better job than the largely unfunded independents.

I believe it is high time government woke up to the FACT that their methadone scheme simply does not work and look at the alternatives. There are groups out there with much higher success rates, and our taxpayers money should be put to better use and not simply to prop up an ailing programme which should be scrapped.

I certainly don’t believe, as some do, that class A drugs should be legalised in order to take away the criminality. I do however believe that a heroin addict should be given medically prescribed heroin, whilst at the same time treating them for drug addiction. I do not believe that an addict should be prescribed methadone which simply turns them into a zombie with little or no benefit. We need to get people off drugs which should be the aim of all these organisations, including the one known as government. We need more members of parliament like Mike Weatherley who are prepared to take an unbiased look at the drug problem. We need problem solvers not problematic wafflers of which we seem to have plenty in all political parties.

It is time for a change in the way we tackle this problem and what we need is a national debate. Politicians need to be made to listen. We need to take away the customers, that’s the only way you will beat the dealers. The police themselves freely admit they are fighting a losing battle on that front. Such a huge percentage of petty crime is drug related that it is truly alarming. We should have acted rationally on this problem long ago. However, working on the premise that it is never too late, we must insist our politicians act now and help to rid our country of this scourge that is eating away at our young people. It can be done but will it?

This article first appeared  in Mike Holland’s regular feature for What’s Happening magazine.