As the reported success of Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) gains coverage, more and more countries are starting to re-evaluate their own drug treatment strategies. Each year, it’s becoming more difficult to deny the benefits of HAT and the mounting evidence is growing.
It may have taken a while to sink in but with many decades of little success treating long term heroin addiction and the failure of punitive drug laws, HAT promises to offer far better results for both the community and those addicts on the program.
Government Commission Suggests Giving Out Free Heroin
by Michael Sandelson.
A government commission headed by Thorvald Stoltenberg, Labour (Ap) Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s father, has suggested prescribing free heroin.
The commission, comprising police and several politicians, amongst others, was established as part of government efforts to improve treatment methods for heavy drug users.
Today, Stoltenberg senior presented the panel’s 22-point findings to Anne-Grethe Strøm-Eriksen, Labour’s Minister of Health and Care Services.
Stoltenberg says they decided in favour of a pilot programme, but with strict admission requirements. Reactions from experts, politicians, and the Salvation Army were mixed.
“Heroin-assisted treatment, and I underline meaning treatment with follow-ups, is something we need in this country for those who haven’t benefitted from other therapies,” deputy leader of the Liberal Party (V) Ola Elvestuen tells NRK.
The Salvation Army says it regards the offer as meaningless, arguing systematised heroin distribution is more a comfort for the community than the addicts.
Stoltenberg’s daughter is herself a former drug addict. Psychiatrist Dag Furuholmen criticises him for leading the commission, alleging he has a conflict of interests.
“I find it extremely odd that a professional person such as him doesn’t understand that. He’s mixing private circumstances with a public issue about treating substance abusers,” Furuholmen tells NRK.
Stoltenberg says he’s never considered his position, as living with her situation has inspired him.
“I do have tremendous self-interests, yes, having become acquainted with them through getting my daughter help. I’m not embarrassed about this.”
Furuholmen also says he considers the commission’s suggestion to be short-sighted and unworthy.
“It’s not a dignified life having to go to the same place to inject oneself three times a day, come rain or shine. Every dependant drug abuser has only one wish, logically speaking: more drugs, more heroin and thus apparently no problems.
Meanwhile Minister of Justice Knut Storberget welcomes the move.
“My attitude to new initiatives for those struggling with substance abuse, is that you must dare to think differently. Over 60 percent of those sitting in Norwegian jails are struggling with significant drug problems, and it shows us we must find alternative ways than just punishment or imprisonment for this group,” he says.