Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jun 2004
Source: Worcester Magazine (MA)
Copyright: 2004 by Worcester Publishing Ltd
Author: Kim Hanna
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methadone)


This report (WM, Cover story / "Addict in the family," May 27) is timely 
and informative, as heroin use is increasing - especially among young people.

Most people use their pain-killing prescriptions as their doctor has 
directed. Very few people become addicted to prescriptions and turn to 
street drugs.

Some people in real pain must turn to street drugs when doctors won't 
prescribe the pain medications they need. Some doctors are afraid of 
getting arrested for prescribing too many pain pills. It's a real dilemma 
for doctors.

Most heroin users aren't looking to quit. They won't substitute methadone 
or buprenorphine for heroin; so the vast number of heroin users are beyond 
those societal treatments. Other means are needed to reduce the societal 
harm of heroin abuse.

Switzerland has found that prescription heroin has helped reduce the harm 
of illicit heroin use. Switzerland has had prescription heroin for 10 years 
and the people just voted in a national referendum to continue the program 
because they believe it is working. Their park full of heroin users (as 
seen on TV) is gone now, since the program works so well.

With prescription heroin, the user can get their heroin dose in a clinical 
setting instead of from a street drug transaction. This reduces street 
supplies of heroin since the users get theirs free at a clinic and it 
reduces teen access to street heroin.

Prescription heroin reduces the property crimes done by users in order to 
support their heroin habit. This benefits society and reduces property 
losses, robbery and assaults on people for drug money.

When a heroin user gets their drug in a clinic they have access to drug 
treatment and counseling. They get first-hand medical advice from a clinician.

HIV and hepatitis transmission is reduced in this clinical setting, as drug 
needles aren't shared with other users. This benefits society greatly as 
these diseases are a costly burden on our health care system.

We must consider all options when dealing with the use and abuse of heroin.

Kim Hanna, Worcester
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