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December 29, 2009
Swiss government providing free heroin for drug addicts

Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved the plan. Photo: Flickr user eam

A year ago, Swiss voters approved a referendum to give hardcore heroin addicts free supplies of the drug.

The conservative country seems to be embracing a very controversial idea, but many critics think alternative therapies such as abstinence should be tried instead.

Rather than prison time, should governments provide free drugs in addiction treatment programs?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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96 comments

#96

we already have methadone maintenance in the US is heroin maintenance really that different you can’t make a junkie stop using they have to make that choice for themselves but you can reduce the harm that comes from using drugs on the street and the behaviors that come with that.. people can function on methadone why not heroin? is heroin cheaper to make then methadone i would think so anyways i think the Swiss are right on i don’t see any better ideas here from any of the people who disagree

#95

No,No,NO. I am looking from the outside in at laws on heroin around the world. I am a addict, looking for a quick fix. Here in the U.K Addicts can not take heroin without crime. Thats why there is about 30000 heroin addicts here.

#94

Any pro-drug policy puts more cash into the pockets of druglords in Afghanistan (major exporter of opium) and elsewhere.

#93

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#92

Cách đây 20.11.2009. Vợ tôi nói rằng đi sang TRUNG QUỐC chuyển hàng mẫu gi đó cho người ta. Nhưng đến nay tôi không có tin tức gì của vợ mình nữa.Thậm chí không biết tin tức gì hết. Tôi nghe nói là vợ tôi chuyển hàng mẫu là đôi dép gì đó….
(tôi không rỏ) .Có phải vợ tôi dính vào đường dây buôn bán ma tý không? Mong những ai & những anh chị tòa xoạn báo Tuổi Trẻ củng như những cơ quan chức năng biết vụ việt này xin hảy giúp tìm lại vợ tôi.Bây giờ tôi không biết phải làm gì.
Trân trọng và xin chân thành.
Nguyễn Quan.

Ago November 20, 2009. My wife said to transfer samples to China for what it is. But so far I have no news of his wife nua.Tham do not even know what all the news. I heard that my wife is a pair of slippers samples move something ….
(I’m not sure). Is my wife stick to that line trading company does not? And those who hope he twisted her court Tuoi Tre newspaper as well as the body functions that this Vietnamese service Please help find his wife toi.Bay I do not know what to do.
Respectfully and sincerely.
Nguyen Quan.

#91

I am in complete agreement with Swiss policy. We, in the United States, should be so lucky as to have politicians that wise. I have been a heroin user at different times in my life, and never once did a law, or fear of arrest, or two felony heroin possession convictions deter me from obtaining and using the drug when I chose to. Prohibition is futile and a failed policy in America. There is even an organization of law enforcement and judicial members—about ten thousand nationwide(L.E.A.P.-Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)—who have wised-up. They can read the writing on the wall. They have first-hand experience on the issue. Ask them what they believe…what they know. Criminalizing a medical/social problem is insane. Is there a more credible voice than theirs? (That is a rhetorical question.) Ahem…

#90

Although I don’t completely understand the thinking behind this act, I am curious to know some stats on this trial soon.

#89

The Swiss got it right. Too bad the US can’t do the same.

#88

We already tried prohibition. That worked well. Now we can’t even grow hemp. When are we going to stop.

#87

Enlightened! Imprisoning addicts has done nothing to stop addicts. Instead, they make contacts, as do those jailed for dealing. And prison costs are astronomical. We’re known in Texas for paroling some violent criminals because of overcrowding – which is attributed largely to drug related non-violent crimes.

This program takes the much of the drug related crime off the streets. An excellent trial program would be if the U.S. would legalize and tax marijuana – even beyond medical use. It would reduce crime, over populated prisons, and increase the country’s revenue. If it was successful, then other substances could be considered.

Our current laws aren’t working in spite of the enormous focus of law enforcement, DEA agents, border patrolling, etc. The dealers are get rich & the violence is ever increasing. Dealing continues to be an attractive option for those in poor environments.

#86

Mind altering drugs, just like whiskey, beer, wine and tobacco ought to be readily available at free market prices. The “War on Drugs” serves to artificially inflate the cost and creates the smuggling that is so violent. Tax them just like booze and cigarettes.

#85

BY ADAPTING SWISS SYSTEM WE SOLVE DRUG PROBLEM.
BUT WE ARE SOOOOO MORAL……AND HOLU BUT DAMN STUPID.NO POLITICION WILL EVER SUGEST IT,BECOUSE HE WILL NEVER BE ELECTED.LEGALIZING PRISTITUTION WILL ELEMINET PIMPS AND CUT DOWN ON VENERAL DESISES.IN AUSTRIA PROSTITUTES ARE REGISTERED ONCE A WEEK THEY GO TO DOCTOR FOR CHECK UP,THEY PAY TAXES AND GET SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT.
BUT WE ARE SSSSOOOOO….MORAL.
VERGIVE ME MY SPELLING.

#84

Re. “The cost is the same.”
#1 cost: the drug addict is still a drug addict. Their lives are wasted, and they will have a negative affect on other people around them and within society in general. The police probably still have to watch them and any friends of theirs. (Probably) criminal friends. They may even (steal) anyway if they don’t get quite as much heroin as they want.
#2 cost: These programs cost a lot of money. High salaries. Support staff. How much were they actually stealing. (tongue in cheek) I didnt think much of Russia’s program either.
Stuart.

#83

All things considered, I think this is not good!

#82

Humans want drugs to experience a change or elevation in their consciousness. We can only curve the need for drugs when we learn to fully devolepe our human potential to experinece higher-more subtle consciousness the natural way by leading a good life and meditating on the infinite. The the excretions of the pineal gald will coincide with natural mystical experience.
Gunapie knows.

#81

The Swiss are a highly developed civilizaton, they”the govenment and it’s people” know that if a addict can’t quite then it makes good sens to supplement their needs, the alternitives is a life
with crime offent envloving violance and the spread of deadly diease. And we lose all chance that they may contribute too society. On the positive side this all so
hurts the supply side of selling illicet drugs on the streets. And the biggest hurredel of all keep-
ing people out of prisons. also cuts the cost of rehabing people, as criminal have long been known to be reinvesting their ill gained money back into money making rehab bussiness,something the worlds police have failed to follow up on. Just think, the criminal creats the problem then makes more money off those trying to kick his drugs,quite the ingenious schem!

#80

This seems to crop up every now and then.
I will never understand the thinking behind it.

#79

In the late 1960’s Doctors Dole and Nyswander discovered that methadone could be used to stabilize narcotic dependent people. After learning that there will be an onslaught of drug-addicted military personnel returning from SE Asia/Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, President Nixon mandated the initiation of methadone clinics in all our major cities. They continue to thrive with government financial support. British, Swiss, German, Dutch, Australian, and Canadian researchers have explored “medical maintenance” for at least 15 years and discovered huge gains in quality of life indicators since the initiation of programs that stabilize dependents on the drug to which they have become addicted, ie heroin for heroin addicts, morphine to morphine addicts, etc. One researcher commented to me: “we found this better because giving methadone to a heroin addict is like giving someone a turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving”. Several assessments are done with a client upon admission. Once their body’s stabilization level is determined or, the level at which they are NOT high but able to function normally, they are released to begin a productive life. Upon discharge the physician prescribes the daily amount required to maintain. In England, pharmacists inject each dose of heroin into a set amount of cigarettes, if the person smokes so that injecting is eliminated. Law enforcement saw dramatic declines in vagrancy, public disturbances and crime. This has also been proven in Vancouver. Inner city residents who had been plagued by urban blight (look around our inner city neighborhoods today)experienced revitalization and gentrification of their neighborhoods. At the same time, public health nurses roamed the allies and streets to bring homeless addicts into their clinics for immediate health care. Nurses, social workers and stabilized people worked together to open syringe exchange programs in those areas. No more problems with needles/syringes in parks, bathrooms, trash cans or streets. All of these positive changes result from people, formerly considered vagrants, becoming active productive citizens who are proud and concerned about their neighborhood. THAT’S the difference between addicts dependent on illicit access and addicts maintained by the government. Eventually they may get to the point of being sick and tired of BEING sick and tired. If they have been working with a doctor, they can ask to be titrated down (slow process of returning the body to a normal functioning level without the chemical) without having to go through life-threatening withdrawal. Clinics and syringe exchanges are important resources that help a person who wants treatment OR detoxification through timed titration (diminishing amounts of the drug until the person decides they no longer desire drug dependency).
Internationally we need to focus on money laundering, human slave trade, illicit arms/fruit/fish trade, fraud, complicity of corporations, governments and policing. Benizir Bhutto was assassinated because of her family’s financial involvement in the opium/drug trade. We need to change our mind-set. Opium and cannabis can be used to manufacture oil, clothing, animal feed, medicine and more. Farmers can continue growing their crops if governments, like Evo Morales in Bolivia, mandate Agriculture Ministry control specifying hectares used by land owner/farmers and certifications to transport certain amounts for industrial uses (clothing, soaps, detergents, cosmetics, etc.) AND agricultural agents/reinforce the law through monitoring and reporting. We can do the same thing in States that passed medical marijuana laws. Sales outside of legal parameters are treated the same way as other goods -tobacco, corn, cows, sugar beets. Why aren’t people complaining about the American arms trade to Mexico ? Off-shore banking ? Senator John Kerry spent many years chairing Committees and Subcommittees on organized crime. I’m sure he could offer helpful suggestions in shifting the paradigm.

#78

I would like to concur with JN M.D. when he says:
Let’s see one year in prison costs us atleast $60,000. Victim and victimless crime to get drugs probably $100,000. The psychological cost to the victim of the crime life long. and who know how much psychotherapy…. Then the mafia that distributes the drugs…. Then the hospital cost for treating the inevitable hepatitis, AIDS, endocarditis for dirty needles, then least we forget the funding of the Taliban and Al Queda thru illegal drug production and sale in Afghanistan….
Of course, it doen’t make sense to legalize illegal drugs, we would be putting all our soldiers, surgeons, physicians and police out of work and saving billions. Why would we want to do something reasonable like that when we can abide by our ridiculous prejudices instead?

#77

Let’s see one year in prison costs us atleast $60,000. Victim and victimless crime to get drugs probably $100,000. The psychological cost to the victim of the crime life long. and who know how much psychotherapy…. Then the mafia that distributes the drugs…. Then the hospital cost for treating the inevitable hepatitis, AIDS, endocarditis for dirty needles, then least we forget the funding of the Taliban and Al Queda thru illegal drug production and sale in Afghanistan….
Of course, it doen’t make sense to legalize illegal drugs, we would be putting all our soldiers, surgeons, physicians and police out of work and saving billions. Why would we want to do something reasonable like that when we can abide by our ridiculous prejudices instead?

#76

The law says that by merely being an alcoholic or drug addict is NOT illegal. However, alcoholics can legally get their drug of choice without fear of ramification. Drug addicts, on the other hand, fall into the “Catch 22” category. Prison time for a person with a DISEASE is unconstitutional, and gvmnts absolutely SHOULD do whatever they can to help these people. It was mentioned on air by a quite ignorant individual that things such as abstinence would be more productive and beneficial to these seemingly lost souls. Yet, once an addict has the “life force” of an opiate running through their system, they are forever changed,cellularly and molecularly. Prison time is equally unrealistic. Not only is the addict forced to endure horrific withdrawls w little or no compassion, drugs are as easily obtained in prison as on the street. And once the addict’s sentence is up, sometimes a longer imposed sentence than child molestors,murders and other terribly violent members of society, the addict will, even with the best of intentions, most likely relapse. My hats off to the empathetic hearts running theses programs in Switzerland, and my prayers that the USA can and will learn a lesson from them gets sent out daily. God bless the men and women who dedicate their lives to those of us in need of help. And my prayers go out to the still sick and suffering addicts who have yet to find the refuge they so desperately need and even more so, deserve. Stand at the turning point my friends, with complete abandon. There is one who can help you. That one is God-May you findall the love, and all the peace him now…

#75

I think it sounds like an idea worth trying in an experimental trial program here.

#74

Re: Tonight’s episode about brutality in Russian prisons, let’s do a prisoner exchange! They can have our prisoners for their prisoners.

#73

the Swiss model should be emulated by all countries who have participated the long-running, long-suffering, & long-unsuccessful ‘war on drugs’! as with all human endeavors, profit drives the unsavory side of our nature; eliminate the profit of drugs! why continue nourishing the criminal element & crowding prisons by creating expensive social outcasts! the mental block in changing the focus of the ‘war on drugs’ is hard to understand; obviously, it serves a purpose for some & enables a select few to profit at the expense of many! Go Suisse!

#72

Neither free drugs nor prison is the solution.

#71

The first step to break the cycle of illegal drug is to destry the momey-making power behind it and get the knowledge of the users. The ONLU WAY to do that is by government to offer free drug under controlled condition. I am 100% supportive of Swiss government.

#70

Drug addiction, like alcoholism, is a medical and mental health issue, not a criminal activity. As a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, I have no doubts as to the complexity of an addiction’s origins and pathology for each individual. Usually, one of the chief catalysts of substance abuse — including abuse of alcohol, which is also a drug — is childhood trauma, which is abundant in most societies, including our own. Despite significant empirical evidence that recovering addicts require ongoing clinical support — well beyond a 30-day inpatient rehab program, for example; and despite the fact that such programs and support would be far more cost effective than the clearly failed “war” on drugs, the resources in our country for such support is dismal. We do ourselves a disservice, both economically and socially, by ignoring the clinical evidence, because we keep throwing good money after bad in “war” and prisons rather than in rehabilitating human beings and returning them to productive, self-sufficient, tax-paying lives. Unfortunately, as is the case with so much policy making, there is probably more profit to be gained by special interests in both military and prison industries, which would be diminished slightly by reallocation of some funds to nonprofit clinics and supportive agencies.

#69

Solution to Drug relative crimes.
1… Stop the demands for Drugs, which mean cease BUYING & USING it.
Or, (and I go for this) LEGALIZE it, then set up government distributions and rehab-centers for those who find it difficult to stop on their own. At the same time educate our young ones of the consequences of using drugs. Until then we are just fooling ourselves. Thanks to the Swiss, government for setting example.

#68

and who cares about long term use. Opiates can be used for years with little side effects. and adults no what is good and bad for their body. Not to mention we sit back and watch people die of alcoholism everyday because it is more socially acceptable. People need to wake UP!

#67

Eliminate the free drug program and send them to China to clean up their act.

#66

No one can understand opiate addiction unless you have been an opiate addict. This addiction is vastly different than others. These programs should be provided. Not by governments. Free citizens that know the consequences ought to be able to use what ever they see FIT!!! Prison is no deterrent I have been there and was clean for 4 years. As soon as I got out I picked up again. At least these programs provide a way for people with SERIOUS addictions to have a LEGAL Functioning life!

#65

This model and this story avoids the middle ground solutioin of treatment like 12 step programs. In America we jail people which is no solution at all but neither is endless slavery to the drug. There are alternative solutions and our government should spend its energies there.

#64

Prison makes criminals out of sick people. The US is a barbarous nation controlled by sanctimonious corporate gangsters.

#63

The Swiss model should be adopted everywhere.

#62

I fully agree that our so-called war on drugs has proven itself – a complete failure. We have a historical precedent with prohibition which has been ignored. It developed and financed organized crime and corrupted our police and legal system in too many instances. Just making drugs illegal has enriched and empowered the worst scum in this country and around the world. We long ago should have confiscated drugs and “socialized” them by having them medically distributed under a government supervised system. That goes doubly for marihuana which should be grown here and taxed as well as regulated so that, like oil, we are not importing it and exporting money.
The Swiss system may not be entirely suited to our country, but it is a model of the way to go – to reduce crime and bankrupt the criminals before the situation here gets as bad as Columbia and Mexico where uncorrupted government officials have been executed as an example and warning.

#61

This is still an experiment in my opinion. A year into this Swiss program and addicts are still addicts with no intention of abstaining from the drug. How much heroin is administered in one dose? Is that dosage the same for everyone being injected?
It is a proven fact that the body becomes physically tolerant to Heroin causing the addict to pursue more quantity of the drug in persistent usage. How, if at all, does this program suppress the urges?
Moreover, how are the consequences of the long-term Heroin use being addressed? For instance, kidney and liver problems, lung, heart, and blood problems.
I believe it is too soon to conclude this method of treatment is the best way to treat addicts. Granted, it is great that it restores sick people that otherwise would be on the streets back into society. But, do the advantages of this “treat addicts with addiction” method outweigh the disadvantages of long-term use? I guess we shall see.

#60

Most addicts, whether the substance is alcohol or drugs, never recover. It is a disease. The current system condemns them to death or prison, or both, for their disease. That is medievally barbaric.

Take the profit motive out of drugs, as the Swiss did, and the druglords and the widespread corruption of police, judges, and other public officials goes away.

Also, under the Swiss model, with services and attention at a clinic, more are likely to be persuaded into recovery.

There will always be addiction. The only question is whether we are going to have it destroy our society and our people, as we currently do in the US.

#59

I agree with Swiss voters and the
majority of the comment here. As a psychology interne at San Quentin prison I saw prisoners
who were there largely because
they had become addicted to narcotics which led them in to
comitting serious crimes, hence
long prison sentences.

#58

The war on drugs was a bad misnomer to begin with.
It has been an abject failure in the U.S….Not only has it overfilled our jails and prisons, it has created ancillary industries that will displace a very large number of people if they are dismantled. About the addict and addiction;
I am a substance abuse counselor and after 20 years in this field I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that heroin should be made available to those who want it. Period….what we have been doing hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and will not work….Perhaps someday science with create a silver bullet…but until then lets begin treating addicts with respect, and dignity by giving the opportunity to live as full a life as they are able.
We will all be better off for it.

#57

The war on drugs was a bad misnomer to begin with.
It has been an abject failure in the U.S….Not only has it overfilled out jails and prisons it has created ancillary industries that will displace a very large number of people if they are dismantled. About the addict and addiction;
I am a substance abuse counselor and after 20 years in this field I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that heroin should be made available to those who want it. Period….what we have been doing hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and will not work….Perhaps someday science with create a silver bullet…but until then lets begin treating addicts with respect, and dignity by giving the opportunity to live as full a life as they are able.
We will all be better off for it.

#56

I believe that this an advanced program which should be used in my country, that is the United States of America.

#55

I agree with Brant: In America we are granted the pursuit of Happiness, if that includes personal illict drug use then so be it.
We, as a country, do subsidize drug use it’s called the Pharmaceutical Industry. Several thousand people die a year using/abusing “Legal” drugs and instead of punishing the Pharma-Industry they are rewarded with less competition and more advertising opportunities. Also something that most Americans take for granted are jails. We send self-abusing drug users “away” but at an unregulated runaway cost. Offeneders are just offenders and taxpayers pay for their rehab, medical costs and stay into the judicial system, in most States much more than education. Maybe if we looked at the Swiss way we could dramatically reduce jail population and take away an illegal drug lords overwhelming profits by offering the Government option.

#54

The Swiss have taken an adult approach toward drug addiction: 1) get addicts into a medical setting, 2) provide treatment for their medical problem, 3) make sure they are law-abiding or face being kicked out of the program, 4) give them the help they need to kick their habit when they are ready. America takes a childish approach: 1) ignore the medical aspect and put addicts in prison so we can “send a message” to the youth. Meanwhile spending more money on incarceration than the Swiss spend on treatment.

#53

I agree with the Swiss approach, however, weaning the addicts off VERY slowly seems more humane than an open ended supply. Also, the US prison system is addicted to virtually free labor that is supplied to corporations.

#52

given drugs to addict has advantage AND Disadvantage. the advantage ,it will reduce drug sale and on the long run the number of addict will decrease. at the same time , it has to limited for few cases and it shouldnot give drug for every body who think he want drug to live.

#51

At 30,000 for each prisoner for a drug offence our goverment should do the math

#50

Yes. Governments should provide free or inexpensiuve drugs and drug treatment plans to addicts. We have proved conclusively that making them illegal is no answer. The war on drugs is a dismal failure that does nothing but encourage crime, both here and abroad Were it not for the greed of the government agencies getting rich off fighting the war on drugs and those making a fortune incarcerating the people convicted of victimless crimes, prehaps a better plan might be devised.
We can but hope that someday common sense will prevail.

#49

The Swiss approach is a start. Another would be for the United States to buy up the world supplies of the major drugs (opium primarily) at wholesale prices. Since Afghanistan supplies 90% that should be easy. Imagine the savings in the War on Drugs-less crime and smuggling, a greatly reduced prison population, closing down Federal agencies, less support for international terrorism. Our government will control the market, and distribute the drugs through clinics in a manner beneficial to society. Imagine the cost savings over the present dismal state of affairs.

#48

I think this is a effective way to work on a solution than the problem. The answer provides individuals the opportunity to stay contributors to society and not problems of failed expectations of it being illegal or legal. right or wrong. dependent or independent. I see nothing wrong with allowing these individuals to become productive members of society. The tobacco companies would never let their customers go without. I’m sure the pharmaceuticals would benefit somehow as well.

#47

The War on Drugs is in reality an attack and an affront to reason, but when did this ever take precedence in world affairs? The total cost to society of our totally ineffective anti-drug policies vastly outweighs any benefits to be derived from the control and prevention of drug use.
Consider the tremendous increase of drug-related crime in all countries practicing drug control, the futile expenditures of large sums of money to fight drugs, and the provision of currency to undesired political elements in the world like the Taliban, and you have only a partial picture of the cost.
What is needed is prompt legalization of drugs, distributed through government programs an clinics, which will ask only for the opportunity to offer counseling for those who seek it. A certain percentage of the population will remain addicted,as before. Will there be a huge increase in new addicts? Not if the clinics determine that the applicant is a new user and apply appropriate counseling. Will the international drug cartels be undermined-of course! If there is no profit, who would maintain the business? Let’s remember, we, yes Americans, are the best customers
now, and we finance world crime (Columbia, Afghanistan, Mexico, etc.) with business as usual. But then-my mind is made up, please don’t bother me with facts!

#46

RBStanfield

The “Problem” is that there is still a problem.

#45

i never thought i would approve of a program to give heroin to addicts but after losing my beautiful 25 yr. old niece to an overdose this past summer i realize that for many of these addicts this type of clinic is the only way they will stay alive. I wish to God there had been this type of clinic my niece could have gone to and get the “safe” dose of this unbelievably strong and addictive drug.

#44

I like the idea of bringing the addicts in off the street. This serves several purposes: it gets rid of the illegal drug trade; it makes addicts back into useful citizens, and it does away with their need to commit crimes to obtain heroin. The prisons are thus emptied of a considerable number of people, which saves taxpayer dollars. Now, if this program could just carry things a bit farther, and gradually reduce the dose each person receives, would it not be possible to eventually beat their addiction?

#43

1) Drug addiction is a medical/biological problem.
2) Regulating drugs as a morality issue never seems to have worked.
3) The measure to society of one approach vs an other should be on the cost effectiveness of one approach to another to returning an individual to a productive life is better than the alternative.
Gaol cost over $30,000/yr, takes an individual out of production with attendant lost taxes, put his family on welfare, he has a high likelihood of committing crimes, a high recidivism rate and the high cost of fighting a Drug War with very little on the plus side of the ledger.
The Swiss approach costs are a medical clinic which I’m sure are far less than gaol, a tax paying citizen, a much lower crime rate and I would think negligible Drug War costs.
So what is the problem?

#42

Legalizing drugs is like playing Russian roulette with your life. Let’s take all illegal drugs out of society and be a better people. Unfortunately a lot of people are weak and without dicipline. Like Barrack.
Only those with an personal gain want to legalize illegal drugs.

#41

If only the US and other countries would consider this method. The world would be a much safer place!

#40

Chemical addiction is not easily treated, and often can not be treated fully at all. Good on the Swiss for embracing fact rather than myth in their drug policies. I hope that they follow up with strong public education, realizing that the only way to stem off drug use is through public knowledge of the truly detrimental lives that await addicts. Why should taxes pay to keep “criminals” locked up when there is a chance for their rehabilitaton?

#39

Free crack for all.

#38

Legalize drugs.

#37

As a Conscientious Objector to the war on Drugs.
I feel the Swiss are heading in the right direction with this Harm Reduction approach to the problem.
When will the US wise up and realize that the War on Drugs simply does not work and will never work?
The War may have been started by Nixon, but it really started in San Francisco at the turn of the century when it was directed against the Chinese immigrant population and there Opium,and since then has attacked minority populations ever since. It’s time to try a humane way not just Lock people up.

#36

Eventually, all enlightened countries will have to follow the Swiss approach to dealing with addiction. As the Swiss addicts in Bern all say, they would have been dead by now without it. More importantly, the social problems are brought into the open and defused, while the criminal gangs who supply dangerous drugs will have to focus their “business efforts” elsewhere — that is, in moralizing countries like the US, where it’s much easier to get the vulnerable young hooked. Foolish laws are the gangs’ best friends, making them rich and giving them even greater incentive to spread their evil trade.

#35

I am a drug and alcohol counselor and have had first hand knowledge of treating heroin addicts. I believe that strictly controlled government program to provide clean needles to those who need them. Such a program will decrease criminal acts related to drug use. It will increase the chances that addicts will be able to lead a life that could be better for them; they will be able to contribute to society rather than be a drag on it.

#34

As a former long-term (15 year) heroin addict who is now in recovery, continuing the addiction is not optimum but getting the ‘street’ out of ‘street drugs’ is better than not doing anything. Fighting the ‘war on drugs’ is big drain on society…so is all the criminal activity that goes with black market drugs.

#33

The only thing that drugs/heroin should be used for is to taper off a drug addict’s addiction. It will do no good catering to the drug addict. It only mskes it easier for them to get the drugs they want. They will play (your) ‘game’ instead of stealing. The cost is the same. Stuart.

#32

That really depends on how the Government views its own citizens. One way has a chance for rehabilitation. The other puts vulnerable lives into contact with criminals and really encourages no rehabilitation. This is one of many areas in which we can learn from the Swiss the social benefits of this system as apposed to the monetary and social ramifications of our current system….it could not hurt to try this therepy and may very well prove to be money well spent.

#31

The provision of drugs to addicts is a right and charitable policy for persons who, because of human weakness cannot live without them. If so-called street drugs were made legal and their distribution controlled in the same way that cigarettes and alcoholic beverages are controlled in the U.S. drug-related crimes (e.g., theft and violent crime) would be greatly reduced, and considering that the U.S. citizenry is the primary customer of drug lords in Mexico and other areas, international crime and our financial contribution to the war against it could be greatly reduced.

#30

USA needs to wake up, a controlled drug program as the Swiss, not just for Heroin, but other hard drugs
is 100% better than what we do now!

#29

Though I do not advocate drug addiction how effective has the U.S.A.’s war on drugs and stiff prison sentences really been. As prison
populations escalate, along with street crime and drug cartels isn’t it about time that we, as a people, re-evaluate our approach to the problem of drugs and addiction.

#28

the real reason why we have a drug war is it is so profitable, everyone in the system makes money. that’s why it will be so hard to get it decriminalized, too much money is involved. But to address your question, yes, government should treat addicts and if that treatment is more drugs, so be it. Since when does any government have any say about what one puts in one’s body. It is so absurd and no one addresses this. I do what I want when I want and I don’t need any ones permission. It’s amazing what crap we put up with, get real folks, you want people telling you what to do???

#27

It makes so much sense to me to reduce crime and the power of the illegal drug business. Putting addicts in jail is insane.

#26

Kudos to the Swiss. Global politics should stop trying to coral human behavior. There will always be people with addictive behavior. It is a health issue not a criminal issue. A war on drugs will never be won. So innovative solutions like this should be encouraged.

#25

I think that this is a great idea. It has brought down the drug related crime and it allows them the opportunity to have a real life. I myself do not do drugs. But make the world more bearable for the less fortunate…is it such a bad thing? As long as the usage is coupled with counseling I do not see the problem.

#24

Count this regular viewer as a supporter of the Swiss system. It must be altered to fit the mores and laws of various states, but the idea must be studied and tried.Think what this could do to crime, not only in the US, but in our “suppliers”, e.g., Mexico. Prob too early for our time—but the next Generation will get the idea that the Drug War has failed, and forever will.

#23

The Swiss approach appears to be the best alternative devised to date. Care must be taken to assure that this is a closely controlled and monitored system (as noted in the clip)and NOT legalization of drugs as implied in some of the previous comments. Legalized drugs would involve Private,for Profit operations which could open up the Pandora’s Box feared by those who oppose this approach. Therefor, semantics is critical in describing this program.

#22

The only reason we have drug violence is because the illegality allows criminals an avenue of control. If legalized the value of drugs from places like Mexico, and Columbia would be nil. Also, two major parasites that have gorged themselves on the American public, (drug dealers, and the criminal justice system,) could be brought under control almost immediately.
Of course there would be problems, but if we can stop sending billions to domestic and foreign drug lords, as well as the billions being spent on the Criminal Justice System, our nation would be better off.

#21

It is preferable to move toward abstinence
to avoid slips which can trigger HIV and violence. The addict lifestyle is not confined to the “heroin-in-clinic” experience. Heroin maintenance just buys time….Addiction runs
very deep, and providing heroin to reduce crime
alone doesn’t help the addict in the long run.
Also, don’t legalize heroin…the addict is not
dealing with reason, and legalization can be a death sentence.

#20

The government should pay for MUCH MUCH more important things like women to stay home to raise their families….pay for junkies? No wonder the world is SO messed up!!

#19

I did heroin in the 80s–and one thing held true then as now. Prison did nothing useful. It costs society a LOT (a multi-billion dollar industry). People who go to prison wind up merely learning more about crime and become less able to participate meaningfully in society. And there are LOTS of drugs in jail. It’s a lose-lose-lose. I and many people I know got off drugs–we were able to do so. Methadone is a crappy alternative for many. So regulating drugs is a rational, humane, fiscally responsible approach to the abjectly “failed” drug war.

#18

It makes perfect sense. It is humane. It is also more visible. It also can be audited and measured for effectiveness. The other option, prison, makes addicts invisible as well as forgotten.
I commend the Swiss for this experiment, I see no reason why it should not prove to be a success.
Furthermore, mentally ill patients are treated much the same in many countries. It has proven to be the most effective way to treat them.
That line of reasoning points towards the bigger question with drug addiction; should it be treated as a disease rather than a crime?
I have always believed the “disease approach” is best.
However it creates fewer political patronage jobs than the penal approach, and politicians live on patronage.
Again, The Swiss should be commended.

#17

In the United States, we tried prohibition of alcohol sales in the 1920’s and it was a dismal failure. We now are taking the same approach to drugs, with a similar failure. The Swiss approach to heroin use is a first step to depart from this approach. I think it is excellent.

#16

I do not believe jail works at all for drug addicts and the Swiss model seems a sensible way to go to say the least. Take drugs off the streets, cut crime – what a concept! Imagine how peaceful Mexico would be if drugs were legal? Taking the profit motive out of the drug trade would change many people’s lives for the better, I think.

#15

It seems to make members of the public feel better to advocate punishment for people who engage in behaviors that they don’t approve of. The evidence seems to suggest that punishment results in more of the problems we’re trying to solve. Legalize all forms of drug use, spend money on treatment, collect taxes and keep users from driving or otherwise endangering public health. It time to use some common sense and stop trying to feel better about ourselves by condemning people whose life we don’t understand.

#14

I wish in US we could think like swiss, be more open and less conservative about drug policy.we all know the war on drugs its a non ending war because of the human corruption.

#13

On the BBC the “Drug Store” was shown. 300mil. pounds of drugs stored before destruction. Give this material to those countries with free drug programs like Switzerland. The drugs are no longer feeding the drug market. The crime is eliminated. The trade is eliminated. The stigma of drug addiction is no longer a social stigma and the addict can deal with his/her emotional problems personally.

#12

IS A REALISTIC APPROACH TO A SERIOUS SOCIETAL PROBLEM. if all other treatment options fail, this should be used. we cannot keep filling our jails with addicts. it is very ezpensive.we cannot keep letting addicts die on the streets, crime as a spin-off from addiction is out of control.the public health problem of AIDS and hepatiiis would be helped.
methadone snd buprenorphine programs already exist; methadone in approved clinics, and buprenorphine in many doctors offices. treatment with these substitute drugs can fail.
i cant see ant harm in dispensing the actual drug in a controlled setting providing the dose administered does not cause intoxication.
the swiss are correct in using this a[[roach.

#11

Drug laws have failed to control the drug traffic they have only allowed the drug cartels to go stronger. Look at the past, what happened during pobition of the thirties. I say legalize drugs but tax it as alcohol and tobacco, use these funds for drug treatment not to build more prisons. Drug addiction is a disease not a crime.

#10

I have advocated legalising hard core drugs for years,if some sort of program could be government contolled, whereby addicts could be monitored and rehabilitation tried first, anyone needing to be “fixed” should not have to steal or kill another human to obtain that fix.
If heroin and cocaine were freely obtainable maybe the drug lords in Mexico would be put out of businness and the thousands of drug related murders every year would stop.have a referendum here in the States PLEASE

#9

Free heroin for the Swiss addict? Yes. It is smart. It is economic. It is the portent of the future. America began its War on Drugs in 1969. Started by a vindictive president who hated American youth. Richard Nixon. It is hard to say how much we’ve spent, how many innocent people around the world have been killed and how many people are imprisoned in the US for what once was legal. (Prior to 1908 all drugs were legal in the US). Three cheers for the Swiss!

#8

It is a practical solution that I suspect costs a lot less and reduces crime. It is not optimal, but for those that do not respond to programs like NA, it is much more humane than the idiocy of putting them in prison. In the US about half of the prisoners are there on drug related charges. Sadly, many people are much in favor of punishing people for ideological reasons regardless of the cost. I think it is abhorrent that we treat sick people like criminals. Kudos to the Swiss for their wisdom.

#7

IF the United States would legalize Marijuana use and sales the farmers of Afghanistan and Mexico could grow it instead of poppies. The farmers would have a LEGAL cash crop to build up their economic status. Combining this solution and treating those addicted to Heroin could stabilize the crime wave that is seen around the globe. Unfortunately to many politicians are involved in the private prison system in the US to give up the subsidy of so many “criminals” involved in using and selling marijuana. This insane policy must change. Take the profit out of the drug cartels by legalizing marijuana and you will have a more peaceful and thriving global economy.

Until it happens instability will reign and will continue to be a haven for the terrorists around the globe.
Let’s hope it happens BEFORE it’s to late.

#6

Rehabilitation is desirable over incarceration. Either maintaining on heroin or methadone gets people safe and productive.

#5

legalize the drugs and eliminate the crime.

#4

The Swiss are very practical people, they have reached the conclusion that the war on drugs is not working, in the US we have the idea that by putting addicts in jail will solve the problem, it only makes the problem much worse, and we are looking at the prison’s system as a money maker machine, we are not willing to help due to the economic benefit that the incarcerating of the most minorities brings to the local economy.

#3

Drug war has fail

#2

Kick ass!

#1

I think this “war on drugs” is completely unrealistic !
Somewhere many people are making alot of money keeping drugs ILLEGAL ! Time to try a new tactic !
There should be a worldwide moratorium because its un-winnable.
When alchohol became legal in the US after prohibition, people all of the sudden didnt become addicts !
We are adults here……I will do what I want, and if need be, sign a declaration so as not to impinge the medical system in case I overdose !

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