Author: Justin Mckibben
That’s right, you read the headline correctly. Law enforcement could soon be giving heroin to addicts, for free, in an attempt to fight addiction. While harm reduction is an admirable concept to preserve the lives of those suffering from addiction, this is a hard bit to chew.
Various countries are working to drastically reform drug policies. Some states in America have even started to pursue expanding access to naloxone, needle exchange programs and even safe injection sites. Other countries around the world have gone to new lengths in decriminalization, while others go to new extremes in the War on Drugs. Yet, despite all this variations of progress, giving away heroin seems like the most abstract idea yet.
Police in Durham, a city in northeast England, are planning to offer free heroin to drug users. Why? They say the objective is actually to reduce both crime and addiction.
The Free Heroin Plan?
Durham Police and Crime Victims Commissioner Ron Hogg spoke recently on his logic for providing heroin to addicts. In his statement he said,
“The aim would be to enable people who have become addicted to heroin to follow a program that would stabilize their addiction in a controlled environment, and reduce their dependency on heroin until they stop taking it,”
The idea isn’t just to give addicts free heroin and let them loose, but to create a very distinctive atmosphere of support in hopes of inspiring recovery. The proposed free heroin program would work in combination with a traditional substance abuse support program, and the users would be monitored on use and tapered off. According to the Independent newspaper, the free heroin clinics could be established in the Durham area before the end of this year.
What do Police Think of Free Heroin?
It seems the police department is hoping that if drug users have access to free heroin then they won’t have to resort to crime to support their addiction. While they are aware of how this idea might seem strange, the idea is that they may be able to further decrease all other devastating results of addiction on the community. Crime, spread of disease, overdose death and more.
According to the Independent newspaper, Durham Chief Constable Mike Barton also says the initiative would take away from drug dealers’ profits. With drug users having access to free heroin they hope it will cripple the trade on the illicit drug market. Barton states:
“We need to get over our moral panic about giving people heroin as part of a treatment plan,”
“Our primary concern is to prevent crime. If we’ve got people who are addicted to Class A drugs committing crime, it makes good sense to get that person off drugs.”
Commissioner Hogg also goes on to say,
“The aim of the initiative is to save the lives of addicts, shut down drug dealers and reduce acquisitive crime,”
“It would also reduce demand on police time, and the courts, and I believe it should also help lower the prison population.”
The impact of heroin on the U.K. should of course be noted as a cause for desperate measures.
- 2015-2016 statistics show there were 149,807 people receiving treatment for opioid use disorder in England
- Between 2012 and 2015, heroin-related deaths doubled from 579 to 1,201 deaths in England and Wales
So of course, as the opiate epidemic rattles countries all over the world, a few have decided to react in very different ways. Apparently, some parts of the U.K. are moving toward a very, very liberal stance.
Fix Rooms and Safe Injection Sites
England is not alone on this. Let us also note that Switzerland has actually offered a free heroin maintenance program since 1994. Other governments in the U.K. have approval for similar safe injection initiatives, including:
- The Netherlands
Last October, Glasgow, Scotland became the first city in the U.K. to approve plans for “fix rooms”. These are sites where people will be provided medical-grade heroin and clean syringes with the intent to contain the heroin epidemic.
The free heroin program in Switzerland began in Zurich. It is now credited with decreasing crime in the area. Information indicates this program has expanded to 23 clinics. But it isn’t just free heroin in these locations. These “fix rooms” also provide counseling and support.
Harm Reduction… or Reorganizing?
Now, we have to ask, is this as crazy as it sounds? While the police in these areas seem to be openly admitting that giving away free heroin is indeed enabling, they seem very convinced that things have gotten so bad this is the best they can hope for at the moment. Again, they are hoping to contain the fallout of heroin abuse in their communities and provide information and treatment resources. The idea sounds pretty intense, but some would say desperate times call for desperate measures.
So is this harm reduction, or just reorganizing? Is this tactic set to prevent even more suffering and destruction, or is it a feeble attempt to make some semblance of order out of the chaos of the opiate crisis?
From a personal opinion, as an addict in recovery, I can say I honestly don’t know. It sounds incredibly dangerous and almost irresponsible to say that law enforcement will provide free heroin. Yet, I have to try and understand their logic; that it might be able to prevent some crime. It might take a nice piece of money out of drug dealer pockets, and it might preserve lives long enough to convince them to get treatment. Then again, an addict like me might just take advantage of the free heroin program and get more off the street while also getting free, government funded drugs too.
Past data might show some support to this innovation. I guess we will just have to wait and see what becomes of this. Until then, there should always be an emphasis on the possibility of effective and comprehensive treatment. Even with the free heroin program, the idea is to get people the treatment they need.
We want to know what YOU think.
Addiction and drug abuse have become relevant in every aspect of American life. Police, politicians, educators and community leaders are trying to create radical changes in perspective. Not every perspective is easy to understand, but the common goal is inspiring lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free.
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Author: Justin Mckibben
Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and driving while under the influence of any drug is a pretty irresponsible and inconsiderate act, and it puts not only your life, but the lives of those on the road in danger. Not to mention any loved ones you may have traveling with you. While the decrease in drunk driving has been noted in some studies, but according to 2 new reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drugged driving is the new drunk driving, and more people than ever are hitting the streets high.
The “Cannabix Breathalyzer”
Last June there was a story about Kal Malhi, a retired Canadian Mountie officer who was in the process of attempting to revolutionize a new and innovative breathalyzer designed to detect marijuana on the breath of suspects considered to be under the influence hoping it would prove to be a powerful weapon in the war on drugging and driving.
Kal Malhi had created the “Cannabix Breathalyzer”, and he estimated that his invention could potentially detect if the driver has used marijuana down to within the previous two hours, but at the time still needed to be tested in the field before being approved for official use. There was a patent pending, and many had their fingers crossed that this innovation would seal the deal on saving lives from drugged driving accidents in the near future.
According to the Cannabix Technologies Inc. website, the device is currently in prototype development and the Company is rapidly developing this technology.
The UK Uses “Drugalysers”
Now in the United Kingdom across the pond, the police are being equipped with “drugalysers” in England and Wales, and with this technology these officers will be able to catch motorists who exceed the new legal limits of specifically listed drugs, that list includes both 8 illegal substances and 8 different prescription drugs.
The new rules exist in conjunction with the existing law, under which drivers under the influence of drugs already face several penalties, including:
- A fine of up to £5,000 (about $7,693)
- Up to six months in prison
- A minimum one-year driving ban
The new rules establish low limits for the eight illegal drugs, which include:
Higher limits have been set for the 8 prescription drugs included in the new rules including:
And as an added measure motorists can be tested for these drugs at a police station, even if they pass the roadside check. A professor of psychopharmacology at Kings College, London named David Taylor stated during a recent radio interview that,
“It’s a zero-tolerance approach,”
Taylor is also a member of the Department of Transport’s advisory panel on drug driving. Taylor has suggested that drivers who need to take prescription drugs carry proof of their prescription in case they should need to provide it to police officers when experiencing a traffic stop. This can come in handy, because it protects those using prescription drugs within recommended amounts, as these individuals will not be penalized.
The “drugalyser” devices are claimed to have the ability to immediately measure even small traces of drugs in an individual’s system, and these new tools have become a huge factor and instrument in the government’s crackdown on drugged driving.
As far as the implementation of the new rules, the actual efforts to actively enforce this could be delayed by weeks as police make the transition and take the time to train officers with new technology and procedures. Either way, the time has come to start taking the fight against drugged driving to the front-lines. Hopefully with the advancement of breathalyzer technology those who choose to drive safe can be protected, and less people will put themselves and others in harm’s way for a high.
Drug and alcohol abuse hurt a lot more than people think. Not only do you damage your health, but you can damage the wellbeing, or even risk the lives of others. But there is a way out, but you have to take the right road. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
image credit: http://alternativehighs.blogspot.com/
December 29, West Sussex, England – A 19 year old college student who was home during semester break attacked his mother and then himself, cutting off his own penis, the UK publication The Daily Mail reports.
Police say the teen was high on a party drug commonly known as “meow meow” at the time of the attack. When the police arrived, the teen, who has not been named, was hanging from a window at the home with a noticeably “bloody groin.”
A family friend told the Mirror, another UK publication, that the student is generally “lovely lad” who had started experimenting with drugs while in college. It is believed that the attack occurred because of his being intoxicated with the synthetic drug known as meow meow.
Both mother and son were admitted to the hospital in critical condition and are, according to reports, now in stable condition. It is reported that the young man’s penis has been re-attached.
Meow meow is one of several street names, just like “bath salts,” “drone,” “plant food,” and “MCAT,” for the synthetic drug called mephedrone – a man-made stimulant with effects supposedly similar to cocaine, ecstasy, and other amphetamines. Users say mephedrone has the same euphoric effects as ecstasy, but with the short-lived ‘high’ off a line of coke.
However, just like with amphetamines, mephedrone can also cause anxiety and paranoia.
Other side-effects are even more disturbing and include headaches, heart palpitations, nausea, high blood pressure, burning sensation of the throat, nose bleeds and purple joints, (especially the hands and knees).
Mephedrone is chemically similar to compounds of the khat plant, found in eastern Africa, and became popular among club scene kids as a more easily available and (at the time) legal replacement for MDMA, or “molly,” the pure form of the designer drug known as Ecstasy.
Astonishingly, it is thought that at least one person a week dies after taking mephedrone. In the UK, mephedrone was legal until 2010. It is now a class B drug which makes it illegal to sell and possess meow meow throughout the UK.
Synthesis of Meow Meow
Mephedrone is reported to be manufactured in China and comes in the form of tablets or a powder, which users can swallow, snort or inject.
Although mephedrone is referred to as a “new party drug,” it was first synthesized back in 1929. However, it did not become widely known until it was rediscovered in 2003. By 2007, mephedrone could be purchased online, by 2008 law enforcement agencies had become increasingly aware of the drug and, by 2010, was found in most of Europe, and especially in the United Kingdom.
Mephedrone was first made illegal in 2008 in Israel, followed by Sweden later that year. In 2010, it was made illegal in many European countries and in December 2010, the European Union ruled it illegal. In Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., mephedrone is considered similar to other illegal drugs and can therefore be controlled by laws like the Federal Analog Act. In September 2011, the United States temporarily classified mephedrone as illegal, effective of October of 2011. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.