<h1>Study will give free heroin to some B.C. addicts</h1>
Last Updated Wed, 19 Jan 2005 09:50:36 EST</span>
<div ="text">CBC News</div>
VANCOUVER - Up to 470 Vancouver heroin addicts will take part in a
North American first – a study that will give free heroin to junkies.
part of the North American Opiate Medication Initiative – or NAOMI
project – carefully chosen addicts will be given free heroin or an
unrestricted amount of methadone for 12 months. After that period, the
doses will taper off.
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(CP file photo)</font>
The goal is to see if prescribed heroin is better than methadone for
addicts who have failed standard therapies, and to find out if giving
the drug for free will reduce homelessness and crimes linked to
supporting drug use.
It already has the approval of the federal government, Vancouver police and city politicians.
The project will look much like one held in Switzerland in the
1990s. During that program, fewer then 10 per cent of addicts quit
taking heroin, but the crime rate among addicts dropped and the job
rate went up. Advocates for the drug-addicted in Vancouver say a
similar result will likely occur in the B.C. trial.
Hooked on heroin since she was 14 years old, 21-year-old Rainbaux
says she's desperate to take part in the study and kick the habit.
"I've tried detoxes, treatment centres, recovery houses, methadone.
I've tried moving away from the area, tried moving across Canada," said
Rainbaux. "I've tried everything. I can't do it."
Anne Livingstone, with the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users,
says the project is the way to go. "It's time Canadians demanded this,"
However, the project does have its critics.
Dr. Meldon Kahan and Dr. Kay Shen, from Toronto's Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health, say they support harm reduction, but worry
"the NAOMI trial has serious design flaws and major safety and ethical
The spokesperson behind the NAOMI project wouldn't give an
interview, saying he would decide when and to whom he would grant an
interview about the trial project.
Health Canada is now in Vancouver to look at the proposed venue. If
it passes inspection, the final go-ahead is expected within weeks. </div>