Pubdate: Mon, 05 Dec 2005
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Times Colonist
Author: Perry Kendall
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methadone)


It is hard to see how many more errors of fact ex-Inspector David 
Staples could have made in his article urging "cold turkey" for 
heroin addicts ("Attack heroin addiction through compulsory detox," Nov. 27).

British doctors prescribed heroin for British addicts from the 1920s 
until the 1960s, following severe restrictions on this program. The 
numbers of British addicts did indeed jump to the tens of thousands 
as the illicit market in heroin ramped up to both fill the gap and 
create new customers.

The World Health Organization never declared the Swiss and Dutch 
heroin maintainence programs failures. Both are scientifically 
validated in published peer-reviewed journals.

It was in fact the International Narcotics Control Board --a U.S. 
prohibitionist-dominated organization that tried, unsuccessfully, to 
make the case that these programs are breaches of international 
narcotics treaties. Far from being a panacea, forced non-medical 
withdrawal from opiates has the highest, documented failure rate of 
all heroin-addiction treatment modalities.

The B.C. Brannon Lake Heroin Treatment Program was deemed by the 
courts to infringe an individual's charter rights and discontinued. 
The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons administers B.C.'s 
award-winning methadone maintenance program -- and why police would 
want to remove patients on this program from their husbands and 
children defies rational explanation.

Of course, if one does not wish to acknowledge either the humanity of 
addicts, the failures of the cold turkey approach or the success of 
an approach that treats addiction as a chronic health condition, then 
a punitive approach would have certain appeal. One just shouldn't 
believe that it will actually help more people than it harms.

Perry Kendall,

Provincial Health Officer.
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