OUR drug treatment “experts” would do well to come out of their denial and note Max Cruickshank’s insightful observation (Letters, November 6) that methadone just substitutes one addictive drug for another – it merely stabilises the “must have” urgency of say, heroin addiction, allowing people to get on with other aspects of living; and I applaud anyone who can use it so; but until they can also ditch the methadone, they are still drug addicts, despite “expert” pronouncements to the contrary. Methadone maintenance was only initiated to change the quality of addiction – nothing else.

It seems to me that the current Scottish call for devolvement of drug laws so that we can treat addiction as a public health rather than a criminal problem misunderstands (perhaps deliberately) that Scotland and the wider UK has a long history of treating addiction with an appropriate combination of public health and criminal justice interventions – the latter addressing drug dealing.

However, given the habits of current society, it does seem wastefully unproductive to prosecute the possession of small amounts of some drugs judged less harmful (but not entirely harmless) to users if used responsibly, such as cannabis; so a measure of decriminalisation (not legalisation, which is another issue) might now be sensible because it would be decriminalising the already-existing personal use of some currently illicit drugs.

The real radical solution we need to tackle rising drug deaths, is not primarily drug consumption rooms (which may be a useful interim measure for individual users) but rather, to rid our drug treatment practice of the current tsunami of “touchy-feely”, politically-correct, naïve harm reductionism impeding effective decisions towards supporting users to eventually leave all addiction behind; we need a contractual relationship between users and support services, with each proactively “doing their bit” to reach that goal.

Given what we currently know about addiction, which is not a disease in itself, but rather, behaviour, this goal is “doable” if both sides really want it.

Unfortunately, without this change in attitude in the drug treatment field, I fear that Scotland’s current call for devolved drug laws, if granted, would simply result in the sham of adding yet two more factors – decriminalisation and drug consumption rooms –to naïve harm reduction’s ongoing maintenance of a growing population of full- and quasi-drug addicts constantly at risk of overdosing and adding themselves to the latest drug death statistics.

Philip Adams, Crosslee.

Of all the toxic legacies of President Richard Nixon, the most pernicious was his “War on Drugs”. Without a national debate on the subject Britain followed his use of the failed methods of prohibition to tackle what had until then been seen in this country as a medical problem.

Most of the money spent is on enforcement yet organised crime is clearly in charge, spreading death and corruption. Enlightened national leaders long ago concluded that “prohibition” had once again proved a disastrous idea. The debate about handling this tragic problem is now largely over except in Westminster where it has hardy begun. Time for Scotland to take a grip of its own destiny.

Rev Dr John Cameron, St Andrews.