Pubdate: Wed, 09 Feb 2005
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Province
Author: Ian Austin, The Province
Bookmark: (Heroin Maintenance)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methadone)


Aim Is to Cut Down on Crime and Disease

Vancouver's sizeable community of heroin addicts is being asked to
sign up for free heroin in an attempt to reduce crime and the spread
of disease.

Jim Boothroyd, spokesman for the North American Opiate Medications
Initiative, said only those who have been addicted for five years and
who have already tried to break the habit will be eligible.

"They're people who have tried at least twice to quit using
methadone," said Boothroyd. "Only a small fraction of the people who
apply will be eligible."

Based on successful programs in Europe and Australia, the $8.1-million
NAOMI project aims to sign up 470 long-term addicts in Vancouver,
Montreal and Toronto out of Canada's estimated 60,000 to 90,000 heroin

A considerable number of Vancouver's break-ins, thefts from cars and
fencing of stolen property are attributed to drug users.

Heroin addicts commonly have to come up with $200 a day or more for
their habit.

Additionally, serious communicable diseases such as AIDS and
hepatitis-C are often spread by addicts sharing needles.

Dr. Martin Schechter, an HIV/AIDS scientist at the University of B.C.,
said it would be unethical not to try to treat heroin addicts who have
tried other methods and failed to kick the habit.

The free drugs are scheduled to be available by mid-March.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake