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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 16, 2010


John Tierney, NY Times, August 2009 - Given the results of a new study in Canada, should heroin be available by prescription in the United States?

As my colleague Ben Carey reports, treating hard-core heroin addicts with their drug of choice seems to work better than treating them with methadone, according to first rigorous test of the approach performed in North America. In the study, the addicts who went to a clinic to receive injections of a heroin compound were more likely to remain in treatment and to refrain from illicit activities than were the addicts who were given methodone. The results are being published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Methodone works decently well," Ben told me, "but a lot of addicts just don't like it, so they don't go in and get treatment. The advantage of prescription heroin is that they'll go in because they want it. It attracts a whole group of people who wouldn't get treatment at all, so the likelihood is there's less street use and crime as a result."

Treating addicts with heroin compounds isn't an option in the United States because of American drug laws. One critic of those laws, Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said that the Canadian program's success jibes with similar results in other countries, and that there's now "little question that heroin prescription would reduce crime and overdose fatalities in the United States as well." And he argued that it's not politically impossible:

Recent votes in Germany and Switzerland, combined with similar evidence of public support in other countries, show that the public will support even controversial drug policies when they have proven results. There is no question that heroin prescription programs are needed and long overdue in this country. All that stands in the way is ideology and the backward assumption that it can never happen in the United States.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those with a humane point of view have long advocated for heroin as an end-of-life painkiller. The usual drug of choice among the medical profession is morphine which basically makes you feel like shit and leaves you not wanting to do anything but lay there in misery. isn't that just how you want your family to remember you? Isn't that just how you want to spend your last days? Heroin works equally well on the pain, but leaves you feeling like talking to others and engaging in other activity.

The "addiction" conspiracy has been running rampant in this country since it was instigated in the 50"s by J. Edgar Hoover and other law enforcement officers whose primary motivation was gaining more power for themselves. Heroin is not as difficult to quit as all the plays and movies of the 50's claimed. In fact, it is much easier to quit than nicotine. Not only that, but 90% of drug users are not drug abusers. They use their drugs responsibly without destroying their or anyone else's life.

January 17, 2010 10:27 AM  

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