Tel Aviv has come up with a controversial new plan to give free heroin to addicts who have failed rehabilitation attempts, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv. City health and welfare officials are putting together the revolutionary plan, which is aimed at preventing the social damage caused by addicts trying to obtain money to buy the illicit drugs.
According to the report, four out of every five heroin addicts who complete rehabilitation programs eventually end up back on the drug, and three out of every four property crimes are committed by drug addicts. The city's welfare service has decided to follow the example of some European countries and has come up with a plan to provide controlled quantities of heroin free to adult addicts who have failed several rehabilitation attempts. The distribution would be done at a specific medical clinic under the supervision of doctors. The plan will need to come before the Health Ministry for approval before it can go ahead.
"There are addicts who will spend the rest of their lives on the drug, and distributing it to them is a vital treatment," one specialist said.
The report said the city's welfare service is currently dealing with 1,707 households for drug-related problems, and workers in the field have long recognized that major problems arise from addicts' attempts to get money for drugs. Police statistics show that 75 percent of property crimes and many of the recent attacks on elderly people have been committed by addicts trying to get money. The figures also show that only 20% of addicts succeed in rehabilitation programs in the long term.
The report said there are currently some 15,000 drug addicts in Israel, most of them addicted to heroin. No response was reported from the Health Ministry.
-Miriam Bulwar David-Hay, 17 Feb 2008
Rising crime, rampant drug use and a huge death toll has plagued the dismal failure of the "War on Drugs" since it was first announced. As the Zero Tolerance crowd keep up their spin that the "War on Drugs" is the only solution, many countries, especially in Europe are questioning UN and US strategies that have seen no evidence of success. The last thrust by the UN in 1997 was to eliminate illicit drugs from society by 2008. The UN did not meet it’s objectives and in fact achieved not even a 0% success rate. In other words, the actual figures for 2008 were worse than when this thrust actually started giving them a negative success rate.
One of the contention points for the UN and the US is the treatment of long term heroin addiction with prescription heroin. Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands prescribe pharmaceutical quality heroin for long term addicts with several other countries conducting trials of their own. Britain have always had heroin on their list of addiction treatments but it is limited to about 500 patients. The US "War on Drugs" bullied the UK in the 1970s to follow their lead and prescribe methadone or preferably use abstinence only programs instead which moved most of Britain’s addicts away from heroin treatment. Britain are currently conducting a scientific trial of prescription heroin to determine if they should again include heroin as a treatment for addiction.
Prescription heroin is not as sinister as it seems. It’s purpose is to extend the available options for heroin addicts, especially those who have had no success with other forms of treatment. Heroin has been used to maintain addicts since the start of last century and most addicts were clean within 5 years. The US rallied to ban heroin worldwide and have since been responsible for millions of addicts over the last 100 years to stay in a cycle of treatment that doesn’t work and leads to alienation, prison or death. The level of crime and massive health issues associated with heroin is a current phenomenon that exploded when Nixon announced the "War on Drugs" in 1971. Many countries are now questioning the motives for the UN’s Zero Tolerance ideology and are resorting back to evidence based policies to solve their own drug problems. Countries who are considering prescription heroin usually conduct a trial first, to gather evidence but mainly to avoid pressure from the UN/US who will allow scientific studies but frown heavily upon the passing of laws allowing heroin to be used for any medical treatment. So it’s a breath of fresh air to hear that Israel is skipping the trials altogether and just putting a plan forward based on the existing evidence. Controlled heroin trials (as opposed to the Swedish trials of the 1960s) worldwide have only ever produced significantly positive results and have proved over and over that they achieve nearly all of the objectives that have eluded society via Zero Tolerance or current drug policies. Facing reality is a major part of implementing such a plan and until each country decides to dismiss the propaganda, misinformation and fear tactics of Zero Tolerance proponents, their drug problem will never disappear.