A free heroin scheme is up and running in Britain and one of the justifications for it is in error. For the point of a free heroin scheme is not to reduce the consumption of heroin. It’s to reduce the dangers and societal costs of heroin consumption:
A scheme where heroin addicts are given free supplies of the illegal class A drug in an attempt to wean them off the drug and stop them re-offending has been backed by the chief inspector of probation.
In a report on probation in the North East, Justin Russell said a pioneering “drug assisted treatment” centre launched in Cleveland by the police and crime commissioner had proved a success after securing a licence to supply medical grade heroin to addicts.
The report, published on Thursday, suggested the scheme – the first in England and Wales – could be saving the NHS and other services up to £800,000 in treatment and crime costs, equivalent to £5.58p per head of population in Middlesbrough.
Weaning them off isn’t the point at all. Some peeps like taking heroin. Well, OK, their life to waste as they wish.
Unfortunately, given the other things that society does about heroin this way of life carries risks. We make the drug illegal, meaning that it will always be sold cut and adulterated. Also, of unknown purity. This kills people through overdoses and the adulteration can and does go on to produce other health care problems. Plus, the illegality means that impure water is used, needles are shared and so on.
The actual problems from heroin use for the wider society come from the illegality the wider society insists upon. An addict regularly gaining their fix is no harm to anyone. If heroin were legal then it would be provided in regular dosages – it would be significantly cheaper than it is as well, reducing substantially the crime oft used to pay for it – as suppliers vied on quality and brand.
The scheme is great, it’s actually a return to something like the situation in the 1950s when addicts were provided with the drug on prescription. The explosion of addiction actually comes from the abolition of that previous scheme. It’s just the justification given there, to wean off, which is wrong.