Euro MP calls for heroin to be supplied on the NHS

By klaatu · Jun 8, 2006 · ·
  1. klaatu

    June 8, 2006

    Euro MP calls for heroin to be supplied on the NHS

    A EURO MP is calling for heroin addicts to have access to the drug in special National Health Service (NHS) clinics.

    North-west MEP Chris Davies says that medical prescription of heroin could break the link with criminal drug suppliers, save lives and reduce harm to the rest of society.

    A research study in the medical journal, The Lancet claims that in Zurich the approach has led to an 82 per cent decline in heroin use over the past ten years.

    More than 50 percent of burglaries in Britain are attributed to drug use, and the country has the highest rate of drug-associated deaths in Europe.

    Chris Davies says that Britain's 280,000 problematic drug users should be treated as victims and as patients requiring medical help.

    The Liberal Democrat MEP said: "I've long argued that we must break the link between the criminals who make huge sums of money out of supplying drugs and the people upon whom they prey.

    "Providing addicts with heroin through the NHS can undermine the criminals, and stops users have to steal, turn to prostitution, or sell drugs themselves in order to pay for their habit."


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  1. klaatu
    Related - "Offering heroin on NHS is no quick fix"

    June 8, 2006

    Offering heroin on NHS is no quick fix

    MANY people who work in the area of drugs treatment will be surprised by the ballyhoo about heroin prescribing, brought about it seems by one ex-minister's pronouncements and some fairly subjective reporting by some sections of the media.

    Heroin prescribing is not new and the German experiment, cited as a success story by former drugs minister Richard Simpson, is only the most recent of a long list of prescribing programmes. The Swiss have been prescribing heroin for years and nearly two years ago visited the Scottish Parliament to tell a cross-party group of MSPs about their experiences.

    In other words, it's an old story. But in all the hype of our rediscovery of heroin prescription, we overlook the context of this one tactic in our management of the drug problem and risk yet another distraction in the drug debate.

    The truth is even if heroin prescribing was introduced to Scotland, it would only be prescribed for a very few addicts at a specific time and place in their addiction.

    In Germany and Switzerland, such schemes' triumphs have been in treating a small number of addicts with long-term problems and have been successful in giving them the stability to re-establish a meaningful lifestyle, job, family, etc. So let's be clear. Heroin prescribing is not a panacea, and it could not and would not be applied to the majority of heroin users, and it would certainly not address or reverse the multitude of problems that affect many of our addicted citizens.

    No substitute prescribing will address poor parenting, poor education, a lack of basic literacy or employment skills, let alone the crushing lack of self-esteem suffered by most addicts.

    But of course, we must consider heroin prescribing all the same, on a case-by-case basis and only after a robust assessment. We must consider it along with methadone, the other heroin substitutes and, most importantly, abstinence from drugs altogether. It's significant that while over half of addicts state clearly that they want to give up drugs altogether, very few are given that opportunity.

    But whatever the best course and treatment for the individual, it's vital that it's part of a plan, a plan that leads the addict to a better place in their lives and that gives them the best chance of success. The destination should be independence and the ability to live a free-standing and meaningful life.

    Few of us who have not suffered or been close to addiction understand the real power of illegal drugs or the enormous difficulty in overcoming what is an all-embracing urge. People who see addiction as simply a bad habit frankly fail to understand.

    The reality is that many addicts will never be drug-free but they can reach the point where they are in control of their lives and they can play a meaningful part in their family and community. The experience of our European neighbours' heroin prescription schemes has played a small but significant role in bringing this about. But the effect on health and the rehabilitation of drug users is only one element; in the end our success in the struggle against drugs has to be built on three distinct areas and they all have to succeed.

    So before we lose our heads in the heroin debate, let's consider the bigger picture. We need to continue to enforce the law, especially against dealers, particularly those who operate in our communities and who set such a bad example to our young people; the ones who show the trappings of success, with their blacked-out BMWs and pop star lifestyles.

    Our law enforcement agencies are right to target them remorselessly and ensure that no-one sees them succeed. We must have effective systems to offer treatment and rehabilitation and recognise that there are no magic bullets. And, most importantly, we must prioritise our efforts to change the culture of our country and win the argument to convince people not to take drugs or if they do to take them safely.

    Winning that argument is the key to success and while it's difficult, it's possible. We must strive to that end and recognise this is a long-term challenge. We only delude ourselves if we become distracted by media hype, political spin or quick-win solutions.

    Tom Wood is chairman of the Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Action Team. Margo MacDonald's column will return next week

  2. adzket
    yeah i think they should consider this but i bet they dont i know there is a clinic in london doing some reserch but probibaly won't amount to anything even if they brought back injectible methadone as for many addicts the hole process is an addiction with needle ficsation not just a substance problem. there is so much that could be done that isinit cause they see drug users as usless wastes of space ect there is even other drugs that could be used and looked into but they wont. i feel the average person should be asked more for there input into govenment policy as they dont have a clue about real people and the issues they face.
  3. Fantasian
    I still think the best option for People who atually want to recover from a heroin addiction who are intelligent and want a way out is high sedation through the withdrawal symptoms followed by hypotherapy + psychotherapy for the psychological withdrawal.

    Not that up on my facts though, there may be factors i havnt considered.
  4. adzket
    swim live in a deep dark rural comunity and there are a few people in the county that are being perscribed diamorphine on the nhs instead of methadone, subutext ect. though this is still rare and only in surtain surcumstances.
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