In drugs work everyone's a hustler, whether offering blowjobs for crack, or a testimonial for a council grant. In a broken world, we’re all looking for a fix.
The rave generation has come of age. Having grown up happily popping Es at clubs, and experimenting with LSD and ketamine, we’re sceptical of heavy-handed messages about the dangers of drugs since our own experience tells us otherwise. Sophisticated consumers, we approach recreational chemicals in the same cavalier manner we shuffle credit cards and careers, much to the anxiety of our parents. And now we’re parents too: what messages about substance use are today’s mums and dads passing on to our alco-popping children?
Some of these issues are good for dinner table conversation – maybe with a spliff of connoisseur cannabis or lines of organic coke accompanying a fruity red. But there’s another, more visceral, debate to be had, of vital concern to health professionals, community workers, and the police. Some of us can regulate our drug consumption perfectly well. Others can’t, as patterns of heroin and crack use indicate, and as their consequences make brutally clear in our streets, in hospitals, and in prisons. For those of us with real drug problems, the only hope that seems to be available is through locally operating teams of drug workers.
Underfunded and overstretched, passionate and cynical, and just as engaged in substance use as the rest of us, drug workers are operating on the front line of life in modern Britain: The Sharp End. Invisible to the public, often begrudged by the organisations working with them, they’re the focus of a raw and vital series exploring stories that, one way or another, we’re all caught up in. This is edge-of-the-seat viewing that will do for drugs workers what House did for doctors, while providing insight into urban social fabric that shows like Shameless draw back from.
Set in the Rawden district of a nameless Midlands town, the story revolves round the staff and service users of Baseline, a drugs work project where passionate and sometimes volatile staff seek to stay on top of the area's drug issues - and their own lives.