Swiss likely to approve prescription heroin

By chillinwill · Nov 29, 2008 · Updated Nov 29, 2008 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    GENEVA: Dr. Daniele Zullino keeps glass bottles full of white powder in a safe in a locked room of his office.

    Patients show up each day to receive their treatment in small doses handed through a small window.

    Then they gather around a table to shoot up, part of a pioneering Swiss program to curb drug abuse by providing addicts a clean, safe place to take heroin produced by a government-approved laboratory.

    The program has been criticized by the United States and the U.N. narcotics board, which said it would fuel drug abuse. But governments as far away as Australia are beginning or considering their own programs modeled on the system, which is credited with reducing crime and improving the health and daily lives of addicts.

    Swiss voters are expected to make the system permanent Sunday in a referendum prompted by a challenge from conservatives.

    The heroin program has won wide support within Switzerland since it was begun 14 years ago to eliminate scenes of large groups of drug users shooting up openly in parks that marred Swiss cities in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Zullino's office, part of the Geneva University Hospitals, is one of 23 such centers in Switzerland.

    Patients among the nearly 1,300 addicts whom other therapies have failed to help take doses carefully measured to satisfy their cravings but not enough to cause a big high. Four at a time inject themselves as a nurse watches.

    In a few minutes most get up and leave. Those who have jobs go back to work.

    "Heroin prescription is not an end in itself," said Zullino, adding that the 47 addicts who come to his office receive a series of additional treatments, such as therapy with a psychiatrist and counseling by social workers.

    "The aim is that the patients learn how to function in society," he said, adding that after two to three years in the program, one-third of the patients start abstinence-programs and one-third change to methadone treatment.

    "Thanks to this policy we don't have open drug scenes anymore," said Andreas Kaesermann, a spokesman for the Social Democrat Party, part of the coalition government.

    A mid-November survey of 1,209 voters by the respected gfs.bern institute indicated the program will be easily approved, with 63 percent of voters favoring it compared with 21 percent opposed. The poll had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

    Health insurance pays for the bulk of the program, which costs 26 million Swiss francs ($22 million) a year. All residents in Switzerland are required to have health insurance, with the government paying insurance premiums for those who cannot afford it.

    "It's wrong that the health insurance pays for this," said Alain Hauert, spokesman for the right-wing Swiss People's Party. He said the state should invest more money in prevention and law enforcement.

    Crimes committed by heroin addicts have dropped 60 percent since the program began in 1994, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.

    And, Zullino said, patients reduce consumption of other narcotics once they start the heroin program and suffer less from psychiatric disorders.

    But, he added, "the idea has never been to liberalize heroin. It's considered a medicine and used as such."

    The Associated Press
    Published: November 29, 2008

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  1. Alfa
    something has gone wrong with your image.
  2. chillinwill
    Its working when I bring it up....What does it show on your screen?
  3. jon-q
    The link is fine-but the image says "right align image"
    Then again my computers on the blink anyways
  4. chillinwill
    Is the image resolved now? Just re did it and it looks the same as before on my computer but don't know how it looks on others
  5. jon-q
    Super dooper~looks fine.
  6. dyingtomorrow
    SWIM wishes he could go to Switzerland, but wouldn't want to ruin it for the addicts there by giving the Swiss People's Party something to REALLY complain about (foreign junkies immigrating) ... LOL :) Then again the pre-addict value of SWIM's degrees, business / systems analyst, database, web and programming background is probably worth a 1,000 times more to any given society than what it would cost to let him get a little bit of heroin. Such a waste.

    SWIM really wonders how the dosing works. Opiate addicts are notoriously good at complaining about things to get their dosage upped. Heheh...

    Another thought SWIM had, is that doing this is probably going to LOWER the number of heroin addicts. The reason people get addicted to heroin is because current heroin addicts keep it at their residence and carry it around, and from this fact they end up getting their friends hooked on it when they are hanging out around the house or partying, because they already have it and want to share the experience with them and have someone to do it with. If people could get safe, clean heroin shots at a center, there is absolutely no incentive for them to risk buying it or carrying it around (when it will end up being more expensive and lower potency anyways), their acquaintences, friends and family would not be exposed at all to it, the addicts motive to get other people addicted for their own gain disappears - and the way that probably MOST NEW heroin addicts are introduced to heroin would completely vanish (along with all the other negatives like disease, inability to work, crime, etc.). No fucking heroin addict is going to tell their friend, "hey dude, you should get hooked on heroin and fuck your life up, that way you can come to the center with me" - like dumb ass sadistic asshole conservatives like to pretend. I can't believe no other countries are doing this.

    P.S. SWIM wishes that image DIDN'T work, because it's fucking torture to look at. :(
  7. Mr. Giraffe
    Swiss Voters Approve Prescription Heroin; Reject Cannabis Decriminalisation

    BBC News 01.12.08
    Swiss voters have approved a radical health policy that offers prescription heroin to addicts on a permanent basis.

    Final results from the national referendum showed 68% of voters supported the plan.

    The scheme, allowing addicts to inject the drug under medical supervision at a clinic, began in Zurich 14 years ago before spreading across the country.

    But in another referendum vote, 63% of voters rejected the decriminalisation of cannabis.

    The heroin vote was one of a series of referendums held to decide policy on illegal drugs.

    Under the scheme, addicts visit clinics up to twice a day, where they inject the drug under medical supervision. They can also be treated for other medical issues or mental health problems, out correspondent says.
    The policy is described as one of last resort - prescribing addicts with the very drug that caused their problems in the first place - but supporters say it works, and Swiss voters appear to have agreed, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Berne says.

    Switzerland will be the first country to include it in government policy.
    Supporters say it has had positive results - getting long-term addicts out of Switzerland's once notorious "needle parks" and reducing drug-related crime.

    Opponents say heroin prescription sends the wrong message to young people and harms the addicts themselves.

    On the cannabis issue, the government had opposed a change to the law.
    Swiss police regularly turn a blind eye to moderate cannabis use.

    But recent studies suggesting that long-term use of the drug may be more harmful than previously thought had looked likely to encourage a "No" to decriminalisation.

    Jo Lang, a Green Party MP from Zug, said he was disappointed that the proposal to change the law on cannabis had failed.

    "People have died from alcohol and heroin, but not from cannabis," said Mr Lang.

    Swiss approve heroin scheme but vote down marijuana law

    A pioneering Swiss programme to give addicts government authorised heroin was overwhelmingly approved yesterday by voters who simultaneously rejected the decriminalisation of marijuana.

    Sixty-eight per cent of voters approved making the heroin programme permanent. It has been credited with reducing crime and improving the health and daily lives of addicts since it began 14 years ago.

    Only 36.8% of voters favoured the marijuana initiative.

    Olivier Borer, 35, a musician from the northern town of Solothurn, said he welcomed the outcome. "I think it's very important to help these people, but not to facilitate the using of drugs. You can just see in the Netherlands how it's going. People just go there to smoke," Borer said.

    Parliament approved the heroin measure in a revision of Switzerland's narcotics law in March, but conservatives challenged the decision and forced a national referendum under Switzerland's system of direct democracy.

    The heroin programme has helped eliminate the scenes of large groups of drug users shooting up openly in parks that marred Swiss cities in the 1980s and 1990s, supporters say.

    The United States and the UN narcotics board have criticised the programme as potentially fuelling drug abuse, but other governments have started or are considering their own schemes modelled on the system.
    The marijuana issue was based on a separate citizens' initiative to decriminalise the consumption of marijuana and growing the plant for personal use.

    Jo Lang, a Green party member of parliament from the city of Zug, said he was disappointed in the failure of the marijuana measure because it meant 600,000 people in Switzerland would be treated as criminals because they used cannabis.

    "People have died from alcohol and heroin, but not from cannabis," Lang said.

    The government, which opposes the marijuana proposal, said it feared that liberalising marijuana could cause problems with neighbouring countries. "This could lead to a situation where you have some sort of cannabis tourism in Switzerland because something that is illegal in the EU would be legal in Switzerland," a government spokesman, Oswald Sigg, said.

    The heroin program is offered in 23 discreet centres across Switzerland, which offer support to nearly 1,300 addicts who have not been helped by other therapies. Under supervision, they inject doses measured to satisfy a craving but not enough to cause a high.
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