Study: Heroin just as good as prescription painkiller

By chillinwill · Oct 19, 2008 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    6538.jpg MONTREAL - Giving hardcore heroin addicts their daily fix of heroin works better than methadone - but no better than a prescription pain killer.

    Results of a groundbreaking Canadian study released Friday showed sharp benefits for drug users and society.

    Researchers for the North American Opiate Medication Initiative, a randomized clinical trial targeting heroin addicts, found that involvement in criminal activity and illicit heroin use dropped by as much as 70 per cent.

    Participants also improved their physical and mental health by 27 per cent.

    "It demonstrated that opioid-assisted therapy is a very effective treatment," said Suzanne Brissette, one of the study's doctors and the lead investigator in Montreal.

    Funded by an $8.1-million research grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the study focussed on harm reduction in people considered "untreatable."

    It looked at 250 people in Montreal and Vancouver so severely addicted that most resorted to crime and prostitution to pay for their street drugs.

    Researchers wanted to see if providing free drugs would keep users from turning to crime, and let them instead focus on stabilizing their lives.

    "Heroin addiction is like any other chronic disease. You don't cure it. You have to take medication usually for the rest of your life," said Brissette, one of the study's doctors and the lead investigator in Montreal.

    The study provided addicts with free, medically prescribed pharmaceutical-grade narcotics - either methadone, heroin, or hydromorphone (a painkiller known as Dilaudid.) It was a double-blind study, meaning neither participants nor researchers knew who was taking what.

    "No one knew what was in the syringe - heroine or Dilaudid," Brissette said.

    A key finding suggests that Dilaudid could be just as effective as heroin and a good alternative for those who do not respond to methadone, she said.

    But further research is needed before Dilaudid is made available as therapy, Brissette said.

    An untreated heroin addict costs Canada an estimated $45,000 a year in public health care, criminal justice and welfare.

    It's already known that treating addiction costs less then relapse. But how much less? An economic study is pending, Brissette said.

    Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc recently revoked a decision to open a supervised injection site in Montreal for drug users. The reversal came after federal health minister Tony Clement criticised Canada's only safe-injection site in Vancouver, arguing that it's unethical to let drug addicts shoot up.

    The Gazette
    Published: Friday, October 17


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  1. cra$h
    this is actually good news. One more step to thinking things logically, instead of a harsh misinformed system. glad to see someone with some power's got their head strait
  2. G_nome
    This is great news! SWIM only hopes that other countries and governments are taking notice of this. For in SWIM's humble opinion methadone is a much worse drug than heroin.
  3. inj3n
    "Heroin addiction is like any other chronic disease. You don't cure it. You have to take medication usually for the rest of your life," said Brissette, one of the study's doctors and the lead investigator in Montreal.

    SWIM Hopes that is a very accurate and researched statement because its very understandable since SWIM is a recovering heroin addict and has a strong addiction to the needle. SWIM has been trying to stay clean from opiates for some time now with out the help of any medication and has not accomplished hardly anything. SWIM was doing great when SWIM was attending the Methadone Clinic. SWIM decided to quit because SWIM was doing well and found out that the clinic "forgot" or didnt know that SWIM will withdrawal from methadone for up to 6 weeks straight after taking it for 2 years and would not feel normal physically or psychologically for up to 4 months. SWIM researched and found out that SWIM will withdrawal the same if taking 1mg a day or 80mg, after 80mg or higher it gets progressivly worse. SWIM was upset after realizing SWIM spent months winging down on his dose thinking it would make it easier when in fact SWIM was making it worse and wasting money. Methadone is a nightmare to come off of after becoming chemically dependant on it for 1-2years+. SWIM hopes this addiction CAN be cured.
  4. SmokeNmirrors
    Wow governments starting to make sense, about time. :applause:
  5. mickey_bee
    This is great news, that figures of authority are actually listening to, what is essentially common sense.
    Backed up with indisputable evidence makes it pretty hard to come up with any argument against this line of action, other than those of personal moral grounds. -Which shouldn't mean diddily-squat when it comes to national policy-making.

    Although this is not the first time this has been tried in a Western nation, it's always good to see this approach being cemented with extensive research. In the UK for some time heroin addicts were given heroin on prescription.
    During this time, rather unsurprisingly, the issue of heroin addiction and treatment was not really of any concern to the general public -it didn't affect them. But this was slowly phased out, and, again unsurprisingly, the issue of heroin and it's cost to society, grew and grew.

    This is an article from the late 80s/early 90s I think, in a very similar vein to the above. Interesting for me, because I was born in Liverpool and actually walked past this clinic when I was little!:thumbsup: Maybe that's why I turned out like a fuckhead?
    [h1]Liverpool Clinic Mocks Drug Warriors[/h1]
    February 6, 1995, from Mike Gray of the Drug Reform Coordination Network:
    The British Health Service plans to terminate the contract with the Liverpool drug clinic that has recently become the focus of the international drug policy debate. The clinic is one of the last in England operating under the rules of the so-called "British System" where addicts are given free prescriptions for their drug of choice. Until the 1960s, this practice was the norm in Great Britain, and was credited by many experts with keeping the English addict population limited to a few hundred in total. But over the last twenty-five years, outside forces -- largely from the United States -- have pressured the British to bring their policies in line with U.S. drug prohibition. The concept of heroin and cocaine maintenance for addicts has been slowly replaced with a stringent methadone reduction policy intended to lead to total abstinence.
    The Chapel Street Clinic in Widnes (a suburb of Liverpool) run by Dr. John Marks is the most famous holdout for the old system of free drug maintenance. The incredible success of this small institution has been a stark contrast with the documented failure of the other alternatives. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has maintained constant pressure to shut down this glaring example of an approach that flies in the face of American drug war orthodoxy.
    The situation became critical following a CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast on the clinic in 1990. The facts in this story completely debased fundamental U.S. policy assumptions. The most startling statistic was the crime rate. Beginning in 1988, the local police began tracking the criminal records of 112 addicts who entered the drug maintenance program at Chapel Street. According to the Cheshire Drug Squad, there was a 93 percent drop in theft, burglary, and property crimes among this group over the next two years -- thus illuminating the age-old argument about whether it is the drugs themselves or the pursuit of drugs that drives addicts to criminal behavior.
    In addition, the HIV infection rate among these injecting drug users was zero. Zero. And the incidence of death among addicts -- normally 15 percent per year -- was also zero.
    Even more significant was the fact that the incidence of new drug users in the Widnes-Holton area dropped dramatically -- contrary to popular assumptions. Drug dealers simply stay away because they know the local addicts don't need them anymore. And the addicts themselves have no reason to sell drugs since they can get whatever they need for nothing.
    The "60 Minutes" broadcast and subsequent world-wide media attention -- MTV broadcast a segment from the clinic last fall -- has been a terrible embarrassment to the conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and their American allies.
    The British government could not attack Dr. Marks directly because the British medical establishment -- unlike their American counterpart -- will not permit the state to get between a doctor and his patient. So they attacked the clinic on the basis of economics, saying that heroin maintenance is too expensive and that Methadone is much cheaper. A one- year supply of heroin costs the clinic 10,000 pounds, where Methadone costs 500 pounds. And why does a synthetic drug cost less than the natural product? Because a single British pharmaceutical company has been granted a heroin monopoly and they are allowed to charge whatever they want.
    Last year the local health authority informed Dr. Marks that his services were too expensive and that the future health needs of the addicts in the district would be managed by the Warrington Health Clinic. There they will be switched to a regime of Methadone maintenance and withdrawal. Oddly, the Warrington Health Clinic has no trained personnel, their management was recently investigated for fraud, the chairman had just resigned -- and in fact, the clinic had not even bid for the contract. Their solitary asset seems to be their Christian fundamentalist philosophy.
    So on April 1st of this year, Dr. Marks' Chapel Street Clinic will lose its funding and 450 addicts now receiving maintenance doses will be out on the street.
    For many years, researchers in England and elsewhere have been asking for a study of the British drug clinics to determine which approach is most successful. This study has finally been commissioned. It will start on April 1 -- the day Dr. Marks loses his funding. Then the Methadone treatment centers in England will be able to avoid any embarrassing comparisons with a system that actually works.
    In March of last year I visited the Chapel Street Clinic and met with several of the patients. I sat in on a group session where eight heroin users discussed their lives and problems with a counselor before picking up their weekly prescriptions for pharmaceutical heroin. Unlike the junkies we are used to seeing, this group was virtually indistinguishable from any other bunch of young adults on the streets of Liverpool. They were well dressed, talkative, energetic -- they had jobs -- and they used heroin daily.
    One of the most attractive was a young woman named Juliette who had been an addict for 13 years. She came from a middle-class background, married a rich kid who got her into heroin, then left her with two kids and no money. She tried desperately to kick but couldn't make it. Somehow for ten years she managed to stay afloat through petty theft and prostitution, with the authorities breathing down her neck. Finally, terrified that they were about to take her kids away, she happened to find the right doctor and he sent her to John Marks. Marks gave her a check-up, satisfied himself that she was indeed a heroin addict, and wrote her a prescription for a week's supply.
    "For the first time in ten years," she said, "I had spare time. I didn't have to worry that my dealer wouldn't show -- I didn't have to worry about the price or where to steal the money. So for the first time in ten years, I had a minute to look in the mirror. I looked and I said, `Oh, my God.' Then I looked at the kids, and I said, `What have I done?' All these middle-class values came flooding back in on me."
    Today Juliette has a job, a house, and a mortgage. The kids are in school and doing well. Everybody's in excellent health. And once a week she comes to Chapel Street for her prescription. I asked John Marks what will happen to Juliette on April 1. He said, "Well, she'll go down the tubes."
  6. mickey_bee
    Back on topic, can you really see this study actually being seriously examined by those in power?
    I don't get too excited about stories like these anymore, because so often they are simply ignored.:(
  7. Expat98
    I just deleted all the posts about who's giving negative rep to whom in this thread. If anyone thinks they were given negative rep that was undeserved, there's a very simple solution: Send a PM to Sitbcknchill about it. Do not post about it in the forums because it ruins the thread.

    EDIT: Posts about the history of methadone and origins of the name "dolophine" have been moved to this thread:

    Please carry on the discussion there (in a civil manner).
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