Pubdate: Mon, 23 Sep 2002
Source: Times Argus (VT)
Copyright: 2002 Times Argus
Author: Sandy Ward
Bookmark: (Heroin Maintenance)


We need an interdiction or eradication program that will successfully
curb drug addiction and reduce the demand for illegal drugs.

The solution to Vermont's heroin epidemic is to adopt a Swiss program
called Heroin Assisted Treatment, (HAT).

It is a program where addicts receive a daily dose of Diaphine
(soluble heroin)-under strict supervision. Addicts either inject
heroin, which is legally produced by a Swiss pharmaceutical firm, or
take it orally. After a few months on the program, addicts who are
viewed as 'stable' are eventually allowed to take home doses, in the
oral form of heroin or methadone to counter withdrawal symptoms.

The heroin prescription program was introduced about 10 years ago. It
has met with a great deal of success. Drug experts say it has saved
hundreds of lives. Statistics reflect drug-related deaths, mostly from
heroin overdoses, have dropped by half since 1992, while AIDS-related
deaths among drug users have fallen by a third since 1994.

"The final goal is abstinence, but there are a lot of people who never
reach that goal. First people have to survive," Dr. Daniel Meili, a
leading member of the Association for the Reduction in the Risks of
Drug Abuse.

A drop in crime indicates the program is successful. This is supported
by statistics from the Federal Office of Public Health which show that
at the start of their treatment, 70 percent addicts are involved in
some kind of criminal activity. The figure drops to just 10 percent
after 18 months on the program.

Sandy Ward

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