Heroin: The solution?

By Lunar Loops · Jun 3, 2006 · ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    A very interesting article from The Independent Online (UK) http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article623415.ece , but not at all sure I can see it happening in the UK:
    Heroin: The solution?

    The liberalisation of drug laws in Zurich has led to a massive fall in the number of new heroin users, according to a study published yesterday. Now Britain, which has the highest number of drug deaths in Europe, is being urged to follow suit

    By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
    Published 02 June 2006

    Drugs charities called yesterday for Britain to abandon its tough approach to heroin use after research showed one European city had cut the number of new addicts by transforming the image of heroin into a "loser drug".
    The UK should follow the example of Zurich, which adopted a liberal drug policy a decade ago, and has seen an 82 per cent decline in new users of heroin, experts say.
    The change has been achieved by offering drug addicts in Switzerland "substitution" treatment with injectable heroin on prescription, as well as oral methadone, needle exchange and "shooting galleries" where they can give themselves their fix.
    The new approach has medicalised drug use and removed its glamour, researchers say. Crime and deaths linked with drugs have fallen, and the image of heroin use has been transformed from one of rebellionto an illness.
    "Finally, heroin seems to have become a loser drug, with its attractiveness fading for young people," said Carlos Nordt of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Zurich. The Lancet, which publishes the research today, accuses the Government of resisting reforms such as the introduction of drug consumption rooms - safe injecting houses for addicts - which are contributing to Britain's death rate from illegal drug use, which is the highest in Europe.
    Their introduction was first recommended by the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2002. Last week a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, backed by police chiefs, urged the Government to act.
    "After four years and thousands of needless drug-related deaths, a thorough trial of drug consumption rooms is a requirement the Government cannot afford to refuse a second time," The Lancet says in an editorial.
    Responding to the report, Vernon Coaker, a Home Office minister, reiterated the Government's key objection, that drug consumption rooms risked increasing localised dealing and antisocial behaviour.
    The Tories said they would consider the proposal. Edward Garner, shadow home affairs minister, said: "If this is to be used as a stepping stone to actually getting people off drugs we will look at it carefully."
    There are an estimated 280,000 problem drug users in the UK, most taking heroin and crack cocaine, and around 2,500 deaths a year. Professor John Strang, director of the National Addiction Centre at the Maudsley hospital in south London, said: "If there is something magical about what the Swiss have done it is not handing out the heroin - it is the heroin mixed with routine and drudgery. All the drugs are consumed on the premises and the patients have to come in three times a day for their dose. It is extremely medicalised. The rebellious nature of drug use has been institutionalised - in the same way that punk was institutionalised when it was adopted by the fashion industry."
    Writing in The Lancet, Dr Nordt and his colleague Rudolf Stohler say drug use in Zurich rose rapidly from 80 new registered users in 1975 to 850 new users in 1990. It culminated in open drug scenes at the Platzspitz ("needle park") and subsequently at the former railway station Letten.
    Since 1991, when substitution treatment became available to all heroin users in Zurich, the number of new addicts has dropped sharply to 150 in 2002. The overall number of heroin addicts in the city has declined by 4 per cent a year, even though the average length of time each user spends on the drug has increased.
    The researchers say the finding confounds critics of the liberal approach who predicted that it would increase drug use. Despite giving addicts readier access to the drugs they want, drug use has fallen. Deaths from overdoses and drug seizures have also declined, they say.
    Supporters of the approach hailed the study yesterday as evidence that the policy works. Drug use in the UK continues to rise, figures show.
    Victor Adebowale, the chief executive of Turning Point, the drugs charity, said: "Heroin prescribing should be part of the mix of getting people to succeed in treatment. Experience abroad has shown that prescribing heroin helps to stabilise some users who have tried and failed with a methadone prescription, and have been in and out of detox and rehab." A spokeswoman for Drugscope said: "We would very much like to see heroin prescribing extended here. There is a lot of international evidence that it can help entrenched drug users to stabilise their habit and move to a drug-free lifestyle."
    Many robberies and much antisocial behaviour is drug-related, and a large number of addicts are homeless. Extremely pure heroin appearing on the streets can lead to a surge in deaths. A BBC survey found that three out of four people believed that illegal drugs were a problem in their local area and more than half thought that the police should be doing more to tackle it.
    The spokeswoman for Drugscope added: "The problem with many drug users is that they keep going back to street drugs and drop out of treatment. Effective measures that keep them in treatment are what we need."
    Five steps to a more liberal policy
    * Prescribing injectable heroin: Evidence shows it can draw users into treatment, is safer, and can help long-term users stabilise their lives.
    * Drug consumption rooms: Provide a safe house for drug users to inject, where they do not cause a nuisance and can be monitored.
    * Methadone substitution: Offered as an alternative to street drugs it is taken orally, is safer, and gives a gentler high.
    * Needle exchange: Providing clean needles reduces the risk of the transmission of diseases including HIV and hepatitis.
    * Relaxing the law on cannabis: Downgraded two years ago from a class B to class C drug to free police to concentrate on suppliers.
    The doctor: 'Lives have been turned around'
    "Our clinic in south London is modelled on the Swiss one. It is deliberately sterile - we don't allow Led Zeppelin or joss sticks. It isn't about creating a social ambience. We are treating 20 to 30 patients - pretty entrenched cases.
    "We have no published results yet but we have been very surprised at how well some people have turned round their lives. These are people who had been in treatment and doing badly, usually for years."
    "Experience [from elsewhere] shows a large number move on within a year, usually to oral methadone. It is the routine and drudgery that does it. The heroin hooks the junkie into a routine that makes them think, 'I want to move on from here.' That is what the Swiss have achieved.
    "But it would be a mistake in the UK to think that this endorses a liberal prescribing policy in the sense of a free-for-all. What it endorses is heroin prescribing in an incredibly rigid environment.
    "Drug-users don't want to keep coming to see their drug worker three times a day. If they switch to methadone it might be once a day or once every three days."
    "Heroin has been prescribed in Britain to a small group of about 500 users for years. But the scheme lost credibility because the drug can be taken away and is given in very small doses out of fear it would be sold on the black market.
    "The new clinic allows high doses like the Swiss because it all goes up their arm - it has to be taken on the premises - and we don't have to be institutionally paranoid about where it is ending up."
    Professor John Strang is director of the National Addiction Centre at the Maudsley hospital in London. The hospital has opened the first pilot scheme offering drug users heroin on prescription. Three more are planned
    The former addict: 'Give them heroin'
    "I agree with giving addicts heroin in very controlled conditions. I am not saying the method should be used on a 15-year-old but if someone has tried rehab, counselling and everything else but they keep relapsing and committing crimes, then I believe it should be used as a last resort.
    "I was addicted to heroin for 23 years, from the age of 15 to 38. I lived on the street, squatted and went in and out of prisons.
    "It wasn't a life choice at 15. I was self-medicating at home because I was brought up around alcohol and Valium, which my father used. He was aggressive. I tried to run away three times - first at 12, then 13, and then finally at 15. I ended up on the streets in London, where I met a lot of other distressed young people who were self-medicating.
    "I spent quite a lot of time in prison - I think I went in a total of nine or 10 times - because you will do anything to feed your habit. It controls you and you are its servant. You will either resort to crime or to drug dealing because those are the only ways to fund your habit.
    My addiction cost £200 a day and it wasn't numbing me any more, my tolerance was so high. I believed I was going to die that way.
    "Every time we left prison with our medication, we'd be selling it by the time we got to the prison gates.
    "I tried to give up in rehab when I was 34 but I got thrown out after 28 days for being disruptive. I remember being in tears as I walked out of the gates and I was already back on heroin by the time my train pulled into King's Cross.
    "When I finally gave up at 38, it took me 12 months to stabilise myself on methadone. I have seen what methadone addiction can do."
    Rob English, 42, is a former heroin addict from south London. He uses the services of Turning Point, a social care organisation

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  1. adzket
    swim agrees more needs to be done g.p's in the uk have been able to perscribe it for along time now for pain but not for addiction it's silly s long as its moniterd properly ect thats all that should mater.
  2. Alicia
    A 'loser drug' ... oh well swim's a hell of a good loser then. lol.. ridiculous.
  3. adzket
    i agree i dont belive any one substance can make you a loser, diffirent people like diffirant sates of mind and diffirent ways of administering those substances. i think the only time someone becomes a loser is if they alow anything to take over their live's and then they only become a loser because they miss out on so many more things life has to offer due to being hooked on whatever substance.
  4. Wyborowa
    ....if you live your life for heroin...then sorry..you are a loser...

    this is coming from a recovering heroin addict...
  5. Citizen Kane
    Yes, really nothing speaks against Heroin substitution. In most Western countries there are substitution programs using methadone and buprenorphine, and in some countries there is morphine substitution. Those are all opiates and their effects are thus similar to Heroin. So one could as well substitute with Heroin, as long-term use of pure Heroin appears to have less negative side-effects than methadone use. Further, many patients simply react better to Heroin than to other opiates.

    It's totally irrational to disallow that Heroin can be used for valid medical purposes. Well, that's because of its reputation created by the drug warriors.

    Interesting is that there used to be a clinic in Liverpool until a few years ago where people could go on a Heroin (and even a crack cocaine) substitution program.

    Absolutely agreed, Alicia. :)

    I understand where you come from. Surely, the addiction to any substance is undesireable and problematic. And in the case of all drugs, addiction definitely has a negative impact on one's life. But 'loser' is a somewhat harsh term, don't you think? It implies that there is no hope to grow (out of the addiction). Also, most of the negative effects we observe on Heroin addicts are caused by its ban (the prohibition) rather than by the drug itself.

    May I ask how you could overcome your addiction to H?
  6. Alicia
    Swim never did really..boyo and swim smoke weed on a daily basis..WE are Happy LOSERS. Who cares if u live your life for something, the only people that judge u are those that supposedly care. and those who dont have a clue. Loser is a harsh term. but then so can anyone be a lose. So violently sick of "There there Alicia there are other things in life." That Maybe.. Maybe theres things in there Life. And swia is happy with how things are. but no swia is going down that road apparently..
  7. Lunar Loops
    Loser is a very harsh term and not all people who use are addicts either. Addiction in itself does not turn one into a loser either. If that were the case, there would be a lot of people in this world who were losers for one reason or another (sex, tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs...the list is almost endless).
  8. Lunar Loops
    Experts hail heroin clinic trial

    Just as a footnote to this. This report is on a German trial project and comes from the BBC news website (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/5043766.stm) :

    Experts hail heroin clinic trial
    By Bob Wylie
    Investigations correspondent, BBC Scotland

    Germany is nearing completion of a three-year trial under which its worst heroin addicts are given the drug on the state. The heroin was given out in seven clinics in seven cities across the country. Bob Wylie has been to Hamburg to investigate the results.
    If you go to Hamburg these days you can't miss the Blue Goals. They are a modern art masterpiece for the World Cup - 120 fluorescent blue goals on buildings all over the city.
    When the battle for the Jules Rimet Cup is in town Hamburg will host three matches including a quarter final.
    Big Frank Jerke says he can't wait. He'll be glued to the television and may even try to get a ticket for one of the games.
    Time was when that would have been unthinkable. Less than three years ago Frank was down and out, homeless and hopelessly hooked on heroin.
    It was around seven in the morning when I first saw him on Hoegerdamm Street on the outskirts of Hamburg's city centre.
    He's a big man. He stumbled off the bus and muttered "Morgen", as he passed me at the top of the steps.
    Medical supervision
    Downstairs he rang the bell at the Hamburg heroin clinic. Inside he took a breath test to prove he had not had any alcohol and then he went next door into what they call the application room.
    There, under medical supervision, he was given a syringe with chemically pure heroin - diamorphine - diluted in water.
    He got up on one of the beds, dropped his trousers and injected it into his thigh. He put his head back and closed his eyes for a few minutes then got up, left the clinic and went to work in one of Hamburg's ship repair yards - the same as he used to do all those years ago before the smack got him.
    "Everything is good now. I've got a nice flat of my own and a good job. Better," he says.
    He laughed as he left. These days his teeth are a credit to any toothpaste manufacturer.
    Frank is one of 500 drug addicts in Germany who are on the heroin pilot programme.
    It is being conducted in seven major cities across Germany. Hamburg is the biggest trial.
    Results published
    German doctors looked at the success of heroin on prescription in Switzerland and then the Netherlands and after years of debate the Bundestag accepted that a pilot should be set up.
    The project started three years ago and was based on comparing heroin maintenance with methadone maintenance.
    Five hundred or so users were given heroin - they had to have failed on methadone beforehand - and 500 were given methadone.
    The results were published recently. On almost all counts the heroin group did better than the methadone group.
    Dr Christian Haasen is the research director of the German trial.
    In his office at the University of Hamburg he tells me in a matter of fact manner: "The differences between the heroin group and the methadone group are statistically significant.
    "Those on heroin stayed in treatment longer and the drop out is less than the methadone group. They had much less illicit drug use, using street heroin and cocaine, and so have better health records."
    He says he knew from other heroin trials in Switzerland and the Netherlands that there would be differences but that even he was surprised at the improvements sustained by those on heroin.
    These positives also affect employment prospects. At the Hamburg clinic 40 of the clients are working out of the 90 going there to get heroin.
    Stuck on heroin
    Ludovic Leblanc, 32, is a waiter in one of the best Italian restaurants in Hamburg.
    His take home pay, with tips, is 2,400 euros, or £1,800. He's got a good flat in the city centre and looks every inch an aspiring head waiter when he's kitted out for work. Not bad for 15 years on heroin.
    Ludovic goes to the clinic twice a day - once in the morning before work and during his afternoon break.
    His employer knows about it. But in his kitchen 13 storeys up above the river Elbe, I put it to him that, remarkable as his progress has been, he's still stuck on heroin.
    "No, I hope to be drug free by this time next year," he asserts.
    He's now on a quarter of the daily dose of heroin he was getting when he started at the clinic two years ago.
    "I couldn't have dreamed of that on methadone. After a year and a half on methadone the dose stayed the same and I would go to get street heroin almost every night," he said.
    Doctors at the Hoegerdamm clinic say one in 10 are on sufficiently decreasing doses to be described as "moving towards abstinence".
    But the preliminary figures for the study do not show any remarkable difference between heroin and methadone in the numbers that finish drug free.
    Youth protection
    Drug deaths are different. Since 2001 German drug deaths are down by 40%, according to Christian Haasen.
    A policeman made the same point about Hamburg.
    Ch Supt Norbert Ziebarth is the head of youth protection for Hamburg police. At the rather imposing Polizeiprasidium HQ in the north of Hamburg he tells me that in the time of the heroin clinic drug deaths in Hamburg have dropped from 101 in 2001 to 61 last year.
    The existence of the clinic, in a way, also allowed a police crackdown on what used to be Hamburg's open drug scene.
    There are no shooting galleries in parks or congregations of drug users at the central railway station, on the scale there used to be. The police support the trial and its extension.
    "It works for the worst heroin users. We support it," says Det Supt Ziebarth.
    Not that everyone is of the same view.
    The heroin clinic experiment was introduced by the Social Democrat government of Gerhardt Schroeder.
    Now the conservative CDU, led by Angela Merkel, are in power. They are altogether less enthusiastic about heroin on the state.
    Better support
    I found that out when I met the Hamburg state minister of health, Dietrich Wersich. He disputes some of the findings of the German study and questions the costs of heroin on prescription - thus far three times greater than methadone.
    "The results for the heroin group were only slightly better than those of the methadone group," he says, "and they may have been due to other factors than solely the prescription of heroin, like better social services support and things like that."
    Herr Wersich is also dubious about what he describes as the state becoming in effect a licensed narcotics dealer.
    "For us to give patients a daily kick on heroin cannot be seen as a permanent solution," he said.
    "Instead we have to work to get them drug free and how can you say that's being done if the government is giving them a kick on heroin every day... and besides will the taxpayer be prepared to pay for this?"
    This weekend the Lancet published a research study of the Swiss heroin clinics, which have been running for 10 years.
    The study suggests that the Swiss model is responsible for reduced heroin use in the long term. Swiss drug deaths have plummeted in the last 10 years.
    The Lancet editorial points that in the same time the UK has had the highest drug deaths every year of any European country. The last official figures for drug-related deaths in Scotland was 356 for 2004. That was almost 50% higher than the figure a decade ago. So here's the question: Is it now time for Scotland to follow Germany and other European countries and introduce heroin clinics to give our worst addicts heroin on prescription?

  9. stoneinfocus
    What´s the problem if someone is addicted to H?
    Will there be no more H in 10 years, in 20?
    If they can live properly with pharmaceutical H and you couldn´t even tell a difference wether they´re users or not, why judging?

    I´m addicted to food, to water, to pain management, etc. so what the f+ck is that f*cking drug for?
    You tell me!
  10. Nagognog2
    If these quasi-religious throwbacks to the Spanish Inquisition found a way to easily slice out the part of the brain that gives one pleasure, they'd make it a law and round us all up for a date with Dr. Torquemada's scalpel.
  11. stoneinfocus
    For sure they will!:))
    Damn, those easy-going pills are stealing our fear and believe propaganda.

    Damn Amphetamines not only works it can be fun, too, and not only for sick people.

    Damn, u can live on H like any other man and get as old as any and it´s not the holy water to wine shit? Damn it!!!

    And how and why are those MotherF+ukrs are supposed to have fun? I´ve been working and sittign n my armchair for 40 years sayin´ and doin´nothing, and they´re having a life after work, or even at work and beyond.That shall not be, me alikes have the money and the power and the votes.(hope for not too long, but they´re raising their children and kicking out the "rebels" uurrgh sorry terrorists and, yes, I really belive,t he job I´m in deserved me and I deserved the job better than any opther of the 100x moer talented fuckers around, bacuase I´m better for some reason somenone thought and I really deserve more than 45000$/monthl.:))
  12. stoneinfocus
    to add some non-sarcastic arguements from my side on this topic, the article of i.e the employed upper-class waiter (and I´ve seen one case of a teacher) taking heroin, really demonstrating, that they don´t intend ruining their lives with the drug, but rather are going to cut back their use to a staus-quo, trying to be independent of any draw-backs of the addiction.

    While the drug-use doesn´t make them criminals per se, or murderers or losers or sick.

    So, like in theory, heavily addicted -so called "polytoxicomaniacs", seek to getting out of their misery, first by excessive drug-use, later by trying to manage their lives as good as any other.
    A clean drug helps them having one life-threatening variable less and adopting their drug use, maybe dropping it later on completely, by tapering down or other therapies.

    And I don´t like to be cut down on opiates, amphetamines et al. for extreme pain conditions, because some "docs" and the "majority" think that this´d be just too cool to b eused except in the hours of dying.

    Unfortunately, the conservatives and their rubbish seems to get back on us big time, now even criminalizing sportsmen, with a new anti-doping law, acting to the media hype in bicycle sports (not mentioning, the most tested, but cleanest sport, after the test-results), getting after humans, that are trying to live as healthy and powerful in their jobs as they can, just while they were conesquently ignoring the coming updiscussion of the legislation of heroin, happily ingnoring all evidence and marching over the dead corpes and spreaded hiv/hepatitis deseases, for securing some seats in the parliament (bundestag/rat) and for strictly executing their party´s program for a "drug-free" society (yeah, sure)...I remember how we were nearly involved in the USA wars, if we hadn´t had a social party majority that time, becauser those wanted to crawl into bush´s ass, as he wanted us to do so.

    So when this heroin trail fails, because of the blockade of the conservatives there won´t be another chance for a legislation, ever. Or at least for a period, too long for swim to survive, to not infect himselrf on hiv or die og hepatitis, or some ground principles of law making to be overhauled, which isn´t going to happen.

    And what about this U.N. charta for narcotics? -it´s a joke, we didn´t even want to make Ecstasy Class I, but had to, due to our "obligation" to this "treaty". So what about heroin? -maybe anyone knows about this U.N. consequences, please tell me!
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