Harm Reduction Part IV : Prescription Heroin

No- I am not talking oxy-contin. I am talking prescribed, daily doses of heroins active ingredient for helping addicts. Not as far fetched as it sounds- quite a few countries have such programs- with amazing sucess.

I’ll admit- this is far from my area of expertise, and pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I have never been a fan of heroin or other opoids, I am terrified of needles, and I find addiction- whether to sex, gambling, tobacco, opoids, etc- disturbing.

First off- in America- the main “treatment” for Opoid dependence is Methadone. Methadone, according to many users, and to the research, is more addictive and harder to kick then heroin itself. It often results in a life-long addiction as opposed to getting clean. And at least 10% of opoid users don’t respond to methadone, and even more simply dont like it- or its side effects.

This has been tried, to varying degrees, and always with great sucess, in the UK, Spain Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada.

Prescription Heroin is a bit of a misnomer- the substance used is diacetylmorphine, which is the active ingredient in heroin.

Prescription Heroin has been shown to have many positive effects. It gets addicts into a safe enviroment and exposure to others who have sucessfully beaten the habit. It helps prevent the spread of blood borne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. It saves lives by removing the regular uncertainity of impurity of street heroin, which is a mjaor factor in overdoses. IT removes the impetus for crime among those who have hit bottom and need cash to get their fix.

But of course, once again, antiquated drug laws forbid us from follwing science, research, and the evidence. We rely on laws, often supposedly based on “morality”, that prove to do more harm then good.  Do we not have the moral imperative to help others, and to follow the evidence of how best to accomplish this?


A few resources: Diacetylmorphine versus Methadone for the Treatment of Opioid Addiction (in the New England Journal of Medicine): http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0810635

Supervised injectable heroin or injectable methadone versus optimised oral methadone as treatment for chronic heroin addicts in England after persistent failure in orthodox treatment (RIOTT): a randomised trial (in The Lancet): http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60349-2/fulltext

THE IMPACT OF HEROIN PRESCRIPTION ON HEROIN MARKETS IN SWITZERLAND (PDF): http://www.popcenter.org/library/crimeprevention/volume_11/04-Killias.pdf

and countless news stories- such as this one from Reuters:



About drugsandotherthings

I am a criminal. Because I have used cannabis and psychedelics extensively. I have tried many other drugs, but never cared for the uppers, downers, or dissociatives. I love craft beer, and absinthe, but don't care much for alcohols effects- which quite frankly, are boring and dangerous. Science is my religion. I am in my 40's, and have travelled extensively. And often forced myself outside of my confort zone. I am employed, a respected member of my communtiy, an animal lover, an environmentalist, a political junkie, and the realities I have experienced continue to push me further to the left of the political spectrum.
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One Response to Harm Reduction Part IV : Prescription Heroin

  1. talesfromthelou says:

    Pure heroine itself is not harmful to the body. So-called addicts themselves should have a say in their “treatment”.
    We think about it all wrong. The end result is horrific. Countless lives destroyed, killed, jailed. Huge loss of human potential. This war on drugs mentality and its consequences will be remembered in history next to witch persecutions and the inquisition during the medieval ages

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