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Castro 29.11.2008 11:13

Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
Swiss vote on radical heroin rules

By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Bern

Voters in Switzerland go to the polls on Sunday to decide whether to make a controversial heroin prescription programme a permanent, nationwide health policy.
The Swiss government supports the idea but opponents say it encourages drug addiction, and sends the wrong message to young people.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s Switzerland had one of the highest rates of heroin addiction in Europe.
Open drug scenes in cities such as Zurich, Basel and Bern were common, with addicts injecting and dealers selling publicly in the streets and parks.

Full story

Nathu 30.11.2008 15:37

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
It's an interesting polling day with many issues waiting for decisions.

Most politicians by now support the "four columns drug policies" (prevention, therapy, survival help, repression). But there is an ongoing discussion how these aspects should be weighted, and the Heroin program is controversial. The new drug law is about to be accepted with about 70% yes votes though.

drsmithy 30.11.2008 16:00

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
Quote:

But opponents of heroin prescription, like Sabine Geissbuhler of the association Parents Against Drugs, say that attitude is exactly what is wrong.

[...]

But Ms Geissbuhler is not convinced.

"That's not a life," she insists. "I have four children, and I would never, never, put them into a heroin prescription programme. What kind of freedom is that? I'd rather they were dead."

Ms Geissbuhler seems to be one of those judgemental moral crusaders the world would be much better off without. I wonder if she would be so willing to kill her children if they were diagnosed with diabetes ?

Jack 30.11.2008 16:02

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nathu (Post 358032)
It's an interesting polling day with many issues waiting for decisions.

Most politicians by now support the "four columns drug policies" (prevention, therapy, survival help, repression). But there is an ongoing discussion how these aspects should be weighted, and the Heroin program is controversial. The new drug law is about to be accepted with about 70% yes votes though.

70% yes vote hardly seems controversial. Actually the program has been operating successfully for nearly 10 years, and functions quite well...

mannie organ 30.11.2008 16:22

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
If it aint broke dont fix it. This programme seems to be working perfectly well,I heard when it was introduced drug related crime went down by 80%, now that cannot be a bad thing.

30.11.2008 17:05

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
One opinion on the BBC was that the average age for heroin addicts in Switzerland is 40. The person quoting this statistic claimed this indicates the program is keeping kids off smack. Of course, it could also be that it's just not in fashion with the young set.

I read through every referendum text and realized I can only vote on gut feel, not on facts. In situations where I do not feel competent to vote intelligently, I abstain rather than skew the vote with an emotional reaction.

Deep Purple 30.11.2008 18:45

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
As long as prescription is linked to support and rehabilitation, it has my total support.

The benefits far outweigh any negative messages. Unfortunately, drugs are a fact of life now and it is far better to work with the addicts rather than just banning the supply.

Addicts would get a safe supply, rather than some dodgy contaminated stuff.
The link beween addicts and the pushers could be broken.
The link to crime could also be broken. Much of the minor crime (thefts from cars, shoplifting etc.) and prostitution is directly linked to drug-taking.
Removing prescription services would put many more people into the underworld of the pushers.

Deep Purple 01.12.2008 00:50

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
The Swiss vote is a step further than most other countries that have trialled similar programmes:

By The Associated Press

Quote:

Countries with prescription heroin treatment for addicts:
- Switzerland's heroin prescription program has been running since 1994. Nearly 1,300 addicts are injecting the drug under tight supervision this year in one of 23 centers, which also provide psychiatric and social counseling.
- In the Netherlands, heroin prescription has been a regular treatment since 2006. Nearly 600 patients inject the drug under supervision in one of 15 treatment units.
- In Britain, heroin has been prescribed by licensed doctors since the 1920s, but the country has been running limited trials with injection clinics in recent years.
- Last February Denmark approved a two-year trial of heroin prescription.
- Trials with heroin treatment also have been carried out in Belgium, Germany and Spain. - Also, in Canada, a three-year pilot project by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research involving 251 addicts in Vancouver and Montreal ended in June. The results of the Canadian trial are still being assessed, but data show that patients' health improved and crime dropped sharply, according to the researchers.


Oldhand 01.12.2008 00:57

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
I'm really relieved that Kanton Zürich have voted for the continuation of the heroin program. I think it's a practical solution to a horrible situation.

Nathu 01.12.2008 13:16

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack (Post 358046)
70% yes vote hardly seems controversial. Actually the program has been operating successfully for nearly 10 years, and functions quite well...

Instead of controversial I should've written main issue of the No comitee. However when Switzerland and a few other countries began experiments with heroin prescription ten years ago, they were harshly criticised by the World Health Organisation. I hope the institution has changed its opinion on the subject in the meantime. Personally I agree with Oldhand, to me it's part of a practical solution for a horrible situation.

Nickj 01.12.2008 13:23

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
I've heard that "cold turkey" works as well, why not save money on buying in the heroin and just lock up the addicts for a month.

evilshell 01.12.2008 13:25

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nickj (Post 358370)
I've heard that "cold turkey" works as well, why not save money on buying in the heroin and just lock up the addicts for a month.

You obviously don't know much about heroin addiction.

Nickj 01.12.2008 13:35

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
True, but like I said, I've heard that going "cold turkey" works (or maybe I should rephrase and say that it can work)

irinastaxen 01.12.2008 13:44

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nickj (Post 358370)
I've heard that "cold turkey" works as well, why not save money on buying in the heroin and just lock up the addicts for a month.

From what I have heard, locking them up is more expensive to the tax payer than buying in the heroin.

Castro 01.12.2008 14:18

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
Although I broadly support the idea of heroin prescription for the reasons that it is more effective than Methadone, it does still seem like an "out of sight, out of mind" solution which does nothing to cure chronic drug users.

01.12.2008 15:52

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
There are therapists and other professionals that oversee them, which would indicate that a programme to get them off smack does exist.

It's a "third way" which shrinks the supplier's market. Many street merchants are addicts themselves and they start others down the road.

Oldhand 01.12.2008 15:54

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
The heroin program has been a cure for some users. For others it's enabled them to lead a stable life, recover physically and mentally and return to the work force. I was actually surprised albeit pleasantly by the vote in favor.

drsmithy 01.12.2008 16:03

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Castro (Post 358412)
Although I broadly support the idea of heroin prescription for the reasons that it is more effective than Methadone, it does still seem like an "out of sight, out of mind" solution which does nothing to cure chronic drug users.

The article makes it quite clear that prescription heroin is very much the last resort. It's quite reasonable to believe that people who have made it so far cannot be "cured", at which point their addiction is nothing more than a chronic condition that must be treated to minimise its impact (which is what the program attempts to do).

Not every illness (especially mental ones like addiction) can be "cured", at least not with our current levels of medical knowledge. The question then, becomes, do we treat the symptoms so the sufferers can attempt to lead a mostly normal life, or do we cast them out of society with the feeble justification of "drugs are bad, mmmkay" ?

Jamesk 02.12.2008 19:04

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
I think that the Swiss are sensible with their Heroin policy - other countries like Germany use methadone, which is a terrible thing.

Yes, heroin addiction can be cured using the "cold turkey" approach - were I addicted with it, this would be how I'd cure myself. Imposing this on another person though is a different thing, and never works - in the same way as a smoker won't be cured by taking away his fags!

Cocain/Crack addiction though is a bigger problem I feel then heroin - there is no known way to get off crack addiction.

02.12.2008 20:35

Re: Swiss vote on radical heroin rules
 
We'll have lots of cold turkey left over after Christmas. :)

Peculiar expression. Wonder where it comes from?


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