Docs: Let's Give Heroin Addicts Heroin

Supervised program seen as best option for hard core
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2010 2:03 AM CDT
Around 10% of addicts studied continued injecting street heroin despite having access to methadone.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – For many heroin users, the best solution to their addiction is more heroin, according to British researchers. Long-term heroin users who continued to use street heroin despite being on methadone programs were able to cut down and in some cases end their heroin use when given medical-grade heroin as part of a supervised program, a recent study found. Test subjects—who had been using the drug for an average of 17 years—began taking steps towards finding employment and taking responsibility for their lives, according to the lead researcher.

"This is a treatment for a severe group of heroin addicts that ordinary treatments have failed with, and the question we're answering is: 'Are these patients untreatable?'" the study leader tells the BBC. "The very good news is that you can get these people on a constructive trajectory." While the supervised heroin program costs more than other treatments, it's significantly cheaper than putting people in jail, he added.

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