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Newsnight Debate Between Matthew Perry and Peter Hitchens

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A Heated Debate on the Perception About Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Matthew-Perry-010On December 19, 2013, the BBC’s Newsnight hosted a debate on drug policy that grew quite heated between British newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens and the Friends star, Matthew Perry.  The debate started off about drug courts, with Perry arguing in favor of the specialist courts as an effective means to curb drug abuse and Hitchens arguing against the idea.  But it spiralled into something quite different.  Fairly quickly, it became a debate about the very nature of drug addiction and alcohol addiction treatment.

It was difficult to watch this debate.  Perry and Baroness Molly Meacher (who serves as the current Chairman of the APPG for Drug Policy Reform) were fighting a losing battle.  While they were using facts and research, it seemed that Hitchens would not respond to reason.  He accused Perry and Meacher of buying into the “fantasy of addiction,” stating that addiction and alcoholism are matters of willpower, not diseases.  His disregard of factual information and lack of knowledge to support his ideas were astounding.  It also made for very ineffective debate.

The issues surrounding addiction are vast and complex.  While we as a society collectively search for the best resolutions, both preventative and reactive, it is important to consider a wide range of solutions.  But in order for that to happen, the conversations must be between individuals who are responsibly informed.  When Hitchens consistently denied basic medical facts, it was clear that actual debate was not happening.  It was an altercation. His notion of drug and alcohol addiction treatment is not based on facts, but on personal assumptions.

We hope that in the future, debates on the very important, serious topic of alcoholism and addiction can be among those who are educated on the subject, coming from various backgrounds and experiences, but never negligent of facts, because these facts are important in facilitating effective drug and alcohol treatment programs.  With people who hold different opinions, but respect each other and don’t ignore facts, perhaps then effective debate can occur in which we work together to develop solutions, instead of furthering division and stigmas.

To watch the debate and learn more, click here:


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