Unorthodox Cures

[First posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups]

Have a problem with heroin addiction in your community? Try prescribing the addicts a little heroin (http://freethoughtblogs!

The harm reduction aspect of the project was fairly straightforward. First of all, the heroin being distributed would be safe and controlled for potentially dangerous additives. Patients’ use could be regulated and monitored. Patients would not need to purchase their drugs with their welfare money (which is proportioned based on the assumed minimum one requires to pay for necessities such as shelter, food and toiletries) and thus be better able to afford basic necessities, which carries innumerable health benefits. Patients would not need to steal, engage in sex work, or turn to other forms of crime in order to finance their addictions. And in the event that such a project were instituted on a large scale, it would deal a significant financial blow to the dealers, gangs and smuggling rings that meet the demand for heroin. Between the effect on organized crime and petty street crime, it would have an immense impact on crime reduction.

The treatment part is where things get interesting, and where this study has produced singularly important (and potentially paradigm-shifting results). What NAOMI found was that prescribing heroin, rather than heroin substitutes such as methadone or buprenorphine, actually produces better results in terms of ultimately achieving abstinence.

I love it when an idea that seems crazy at first blush, turns out to be one of the best solutions we have on hand. Mind you, I’m not holding my breathe about seeing this in action. As Natalie points out:

Though ever the cynic, I worry about the fact that we already have a staggering degree of evidence supporting harm-reduction and progressive drug policy. We already know they’re more effective than what we’ve been doing. But the Harm-Reduction, Prevention and Treatment “pillars” are all still pitifully underfunded in comparison to the runaway juggernaut of Enforcement.

HJ Hornbeck