Drug dependence has many facets, not least its relationship with the law. For instance, one approach to limiting harm to the individual and society from drug misuse has been to curb by means of legal controls the possession, use and supply of certain drugs. In this chapter the development of drugs legislation in the United Kingdom will be briefly described and this will provide an historical context for an outline of that cornerstone of current law relating to drugs, the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. The Mental Health Act as it applies to drug misuse will then be summarised.
Given the overall statistical association between drug misuse and criminal activity, health-care professionals working with drug dependents may be called on to prepare court reports or to give evidence in court. Some guidance for these tasks will be presented. Lastly the complex relationship between drug misuse and crime will be explored and possible reasons for an association discussed.
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