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UK Justice Minister Recommends Giving Free Heroin to Problem Addicts

posted 01:49 AM EST, Tue September 22, 2009
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UK Justice Minister Recommends Giving Free Heroin to Problem Addicts © Photo Credit: Curtis Gregory Perry

Jack Straw promotes prescription heroin as a harm reduction policy

The data from a just released British study on the use of prescribed heroin indicates that heroin addicts who are given supervised doses of heroin in a clinic location commit far fewer crimes and use much lesser amounts of street drugs.

The government supported study followed 100 heroin addicts over a 4 year period, during which, each user had access to free heroin at supervised clinics in London, Brighton and Darlington. About 75% of these users significantly reduced their use of street drugs over the four year period.

UK Justice Minister, Jack Straw, says that given the encouraging results of the prescribed heroin study, it may be worth considering a change in policy, saying, "It may be the best means of reducing the harm they do to themselves, and of stamping out the crime and disorder they inflict."

Although a previous proponent of “get tough on drugs” governmental missions, Straw now spouts a different line, writing in the Lancashire Telegraph that the primary goal of any intervention must be to reduce the harms drugs inflict on the individual, the family and the communities in which drug addicts commit their crimes.  He now says “We need to keep an open mind on alternative approaches, not dismiss them if they don't fit in with the adjective 'tough'.”

Until 1968, heroin addicts in the UK could buy their drug by prescription at pharmacies.

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