Pubdate: Fri, 14 Feb 2014
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2014 Florida Today
Author: Marshall Frank
Note: Marshall Frank is an author and retired Miami police detective
who lives in Melbourne.


Treatment Clinics In Some Countries Yield 'Amazing Results'

It's sad that society rises to a level of sympathy and understanding
only when death by drug addiction strikes the rich and famous.

When poor Willie Smith is found behind the convenience store Dumpster
at 5 a.m., lying dead with a needle in his arm, it gets zero attention
by the news media. But when movie stars like Whitney Houston and
Phillip Seymour Hoffman die by the needle, it's big news, bringing a
spurt of awareness until the story dies down.

Heroin is a dangerously addictive drug that is used by all facets of
society, rich and poor. During my days as a cop, I met business people
who functioned in a normal life, but hid their addiction from family
and associates as they entered the sordid black market once a week to
buy their "medicine." They began using the drug earlier in life to fit
in with their peers.

It's getting worse. The Wall Street Journal reported in August that
heroin use in the United States was soaring after a huge surge in
production from Mexico during the past six years. In 2012, officials
seized 1,989 kilograms of heroin compared to 487 kilos in 2008. The
estimated number of heroin users increased from 373,000 in 2007 to
620,000 in 2011.

While isolating this substance from all others, we should note that if
there were no pushers, there would be no sales. Many street sellers
reward users for bringing in new customers, usually among the youth.
Rewards generally come in the form of free dope. Heroin addicts are
deathly afraid of withdrawals, because the sickness is horrible. Thus,
the yoke of heroin is almost impossible to break.

Perhaps we should start thinking outside the box and consider the
Swiss model that was implemented in the late 1990s after the Swiss
people approved referendums to decriminalize heroin (use and
possession) and set up special heroin programs. Until then, parks and
railway stations in Switzerland were bustling with users and sellers,
creating immense social problems, particularly with HIV and health
care facilities, not to mention associated crime.

Switzerland set up Heroin Addiction Treatment (HAT) programs providing
accessible heroin clinics for chronic addicts to receive free
"medicine." The results were staggering. During a period of seven
years, incidents of deaths from drugs and HIV infections from needles
dropped dramatically. The desperation factor disappeared for addicts
who no longer had to rob and steal and turn on new junkies to support
their habits. This pulled the rug from under the black market and the
smugglers/sellers moved elsewhere.

Other countries, such as Germany and Portugal, along with Vancouver,
Canada, have been conducting similar experiments with amazing results.
Citizens are safer, drugs are regulated, needles are cleaner, prison
populations are down and the market for new addicts has diminished.

In 2004, a World Health Organization report concluded that for every
dollar invested in the HAT program, $12 is saved on law enforcement,
judicial and health costs, not to mention prisons and

There are other ways to improve the crime problem in America. It's not
always about long prison sentences. It's time for a change in thinking.

Marshall Frank is an author and retired Miami police detective who
lives in Melbourne. Visit his website at
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D