Friday, 30 May 2008

Israel - Another Country Considers Prescription Heroin

Jerusalem Post

Tel Aviv has come up with a controversial new plan to give free heroin to addicts who have failed rehabilitation attempts, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv.  City health and welfare officials are putting together the revolutionary plan, which is aimed at preventing the social damage caused by addicts trying to obtain money to buy the illicit drugs.  

According to the report, four out of every five heroin addicts who complete rehabilitation programs eventually end up back on the drug, and three out of every four property crimes are committed by drug addicts.  The city's welfare service has decided to follow the example of some European countries and has come up with a plan to provide controlled quantities of heroin free to adult addicts who have failed several rehabilitation attempts.  The distribution would be done at a specific medical clinic under the supervision of doctors.  The plan will need to come before the Health Ministry for approval before it can go ahead.  

"There are addicts who will spend the rest of their lives on the drug, and distributing it to them is a vital treatment," one specialist said.  

The report said the city's welfare service is currently dealing with 1,707 households for drug-related problems, and workers in the field have long recognized that major problems arise from addicts' attempts to get money for drugs.  Police statistics show that 75 percent of property crimes and many of the recent attacks on elderly people have been committed by addicts trying to get money.  The figures also show that only 20% of addicts succeed in rehabilitation programs in the long term.  

The report said there are currently some 15,000 drug addicts in Israel, most of them addicted to heroin.  No response was reported from the Health Ministry.  

-Miriam Bulwar David-Hay, 17 Feb 2008 

Rising crime, rampant drug use and a huge death toll has plagued the dismal failure of the "War on Drugs" since it was first announced. As the Zero Tolerance crowd keep up their spin that the "War on Drugs" is the only solution, many countries, especially in Europe are questioning UN and US strategies that have seen no evidence of success. The last thrust by the UN in 1997 was to eliminate illicit drugs from society by 2008. The UN did not meet it’s objectives and in fact achieved not even a 0% success rate. In other words, the actual figures for 2008 were worse than when this thrust actually started giving them a negative success rate.

One of the contention points for the UN and the US is the treatment of long term heroin addiction with prescription heroin. Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands prescribe pharmaceutical quality heroin for long term addicts with several other countries conducting trials of their own. Britain have always had heroin on their list of addiction treatments but it is limited to about 500 patients. The US "War on Drugs" bullied the UK in the 1970s to follow their lead and prescribe methadone or preferably use abstinence only programs instead which moved most of Britain’s addicts away from heroin treatment. Britain are currently conducting a scientific trial of prescription heroin to determine if they should again include heroin as a treatment for addiction.

Prescription heroin is not as sinister as it seems. It’s purpose is to extend the available options for heroin addicts, especially those who have had no success with other forms of treatment. Heroin has been used to maintain addicts since the start of last century and most addicts were clean within 5 years. The US rallied to ban heroin worldwide and have since been responsible for millions of addicts over the last 100 years to stay in a cycle of treatment that doesn’t work and leads to alienation, prison or death. The level of crime and massive health issues associated with heroin is a current phenomenon that exploded when Nixon announced the "War on Drugs" in 1971. Many countries are now questioning the motives for the UN’s Zero Tolerance ideology and are resorting back to evidence based policies to solve their own drug problems. Countries who are considering prescription heroin usually conduct a trial first, to gather evidence but mainly to avoid pressure from the UN/US who will allow scientific studies but frown heavily upon the passing of laws allowing heroin to be used for any medical treatment. So it’s a breath of fresh air to hear that Israel is skipping the trials altogether and just putting a plan forward based on the existing evidence. Controlled heroin trials (as opposed to the Swedish trials of the 1960s) worldwide have only ever produced significantly positive results and have proved over and over that they achieve nearly all of the objectives that have eluded society via Zero Tolerance or current drug policies. Facing reality is a major part of implementing such a plan and until each country decides to dismiss the propaganda, misinformation and fear tactics of Zero Tolerance proponents, their drug problem will never disappear.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Drug Hysteria - Headlines from News Ltd.

Drug references in headlines must be a winning formula for News Ltd. media outlets in Australia. I have provided a collection of some wonderful examples of how headlines often have very little to do with the actual article.

In my  previous article, Everyday Examples of Drug Hysteria, I mentioned that News Ltd ran a story about singer, Shannon Noll, who had admitted to drinking a lot and smoking marijuana. The headline was, ‘Noll Admits to Drug and Booze Addiction’. The article explained that Noll had ‘admitted to using drugs and bingeing on alcohol’ and made references to well known hard drug users from the music industry like Keith Richards and Jimmy Hendrix. There was no mention of addiction at all and the only drug referenced was alcohol except, ‘He did confirm that he had used marijuana heavily.’You would get no points for seeing the headline as media sensationalism.

This got me thinking about the other drug related sensational headlines that News Ltd was responsible for. I did some digging through and found a collection of headlines that would make any self respecting media mogul shudder. A headline with a drug reference must be guaranteed success even if the story has very little to do with drugs. The only bigger prize for headline sensationalism is a drug reference and a celebrity. 

News Ltd is responsible for news feeds to the Herald-Sun, Daily Telegraph, The Courier-Mail, The Adelaide Advertiser and others. I have not included articles from the well known Zero Tolerance wackers like Ackerman, Laws, Jones, Devine, Bolt, Price, Mitchell etc. They deserve their own article.

'Sex, Booze And Drugs' At Club 21

A story about a group of female students who formed a girls club. A major news story? How this got in the news initially is still a mystery and even more so is how it made it onto TV.

The issue has made headlines in newspapers and on national breakfast television.

St Patrick's College principal Eamon Hannan today said the school community had been "devastated" by the media coverage and students had been offered counselling.

He said some students had been harassed on their way to school and others were in tears because they "cannot understand why they are on the front page of the paper or on the television news".

The only mention of drugs in the whole article was, ‘The ex-members alleged that sleeping around, binge drinking and drug taking were all activities encouraged by the king pins of the group.’ The rest of the article was still about a group of female students who formed a girls club. 

Be Paid To Take Drugs

AUSTRALIAN backpackers are offering themselves as guinea pigs in risky drug trials to fund their European holidays.

Instead of slogging away in London pubs, Australian travellers are being willingly injected with previously untested drugs in exchange for a few thousand pounds.

These poor, unfortunate backpackers have had to give up the accepted practice of ‘slogging away in London pubs’ and be exposed to injections of god-knows-what for a lousy $5,000 Australian dollars. ‘Injected’ sounds so sinister but it is the required drug reference ... perfect for this article. An article about participants in legal, pharmaceutical drug research. I would be more worried about the ‘slogging away in London pubs’ comment. It’s OK to pump massive amounts of an addictive and socially destructive drug into yourself day after day but being a participant in medical drug trials is questionable? 

Peaches Geldof seen 'buying drugs' from Amy Winehouse dealer

Two named celebrities and two references to drugs! This story was bound for the main page of the website.

Drug user 'masturbated in ambulance'

What more can I say?

Zero Tolerance Works

Zero Tolerance is a drug policy practised by the US and Sweden which is supported by moralists and the religious right. It has caused much media attention since John Howard started pushing it as a possible policy for Australia as part of his ‘Tough on Drugs’ approach. This article though, is about horses.

War On Drugs Must Go On

One of the most contentious issues of the last 30 years that has resulted in over a million unnecessary deaths and over 2 trillion dollars going to organised crime. But this article isn’t about the actual "War on Drugs" but rather, performance enhancing drugs in sport. I suppose it’s a better headline than “War on anti-competitive, performance enhancing drugs must go on”.

Nigel Kennedy Hits Out At Substance Abuse In Classical Music

Substance abuse is serious and ... What? Orchestra musicians taking drugs?! I thought only rock musicians, junkies, desperates, losers, the poor, those crazy celebrities, Greens’ voters, the unemployed, pregnant single mothers, Wayne Swann, fallen sports stars and a third of Australians took drugs.

I was interested in the term ‘Hits Out’ in the headline. I get the feeling there was not so much ‘hitting out’ at all but rather ‘selling out’ of the unknown reporter to get their article published.

WE'RE used to rockers coming clean about their use of drugs. Now star violinist Nigel Kennedy has hit out at substance abuse in the highbrow world of classical music. He said that orchestra musicians often took drugs to head off stage fright.

"There are drugs that enable people who are nearly dead to perform," the Brit said.

"They don't lead to mistakes, but not much else happens."

Kennedy said he was not averse to the odd joint himself, but only after a concert.

"Performing under the influence of alcohol or dope would be cheating the audience," he said.

By the way, that’s the whole article.

High Society Awash With Drugs

First, orchestra musicians, now the rich. Who is left to make headlines? We better add them to the list - rock musicians, junkies, desperates, losers, the poor, those crazy celebrities, the Greens voters, the unemployed, pregnant single mothers, Wayne Swann, fallen sports stars, a third of Australians and the rich ... take drugs.

Corby 'Not A Drug-Taking Party Animal'

Read the article and you will not find one instance of a ‘Drug-Taking Party Animal'. Maybe reporter, Margaret Scheikowski needed a new headline to stand out from the constant Corby stories or they ran out of headlines with the words ‘Corby’ and ‘drugs’.

Angelina Drug Den Video A 'Lesson To Others'

A celebrities name will make a lame story ... well, er, a lame story ... with a celebrity.

The footage, shot in 1999 when she was 23, does not show the Oscar-winner using drugs, however she does talk about S&M practices and killing pets.

The video has been published by British newspaper The Sun - which says its an example to other troubled stars that they can turn their lives around.

So no drug use here. Just idle chat about how some of her pets died when she was a kid and a mention of being tied up during sex. I am glad, British newspaper, The Sun has a moral for all those junkie celebrities, that if Angelina can do it, they can do it too. See, drug addiction is simple.

Kids Offered Drug Disguised As Lollies

My favourite. 

•Ice disguised as flavoured lollies

•Offered to primary children

•Parents warned as ice epidemic continues

A note sent home by Rozelle Public School in Sydney's inner-west warned that children could be approached and given crystal methamphetamine in chocolate, strawberry and peanut flavour.

The alert, written in the school newsletter, says the substance "looks like a crunchy sweet".

THE drug ice is being offered to school children disguised as lollies, parents have been warned.


It adds: "A child in Leichhardt may have been offered such a substance recently.

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Training said last night a "concerned and responsible Rozelle Public parent advised the school they heard a child (not a Rozelle student) was offered chocolate that may have been tainted with drugs".

The whole article is about warnings that lollies might have the drug, ice in them to lure children. No drug dealer is going to give away his product with the absurd hope that some kid will become ‘addicted’ to his product. There’s plenty of customers already. Maybe the dealer will leave a business card for future sales? This crazy notion that dealers give out free samples to children to get them ‘hooked’ was a propaganda stunt from the anti-drugs zealots, over 80 years ago. Also most dealers are user/dealers with the same ethics as anyone and are trying to support their habit. The idea of giving drugs to young kids offends them just as much as anyone.

The only actual evidence from the article is that, a government worker said a parent told a school they had heard about a child from another school was offered lollies that might have been laced with drugs’. No child has actually been offered anything. In fact, it’s an urban legend from the US which made news in the UK last year. It’s even made it to Wikipedia.

From a rumour that one person mentioned to someone else, we got a school alert sent to parents, a warning for the school community, a response from the Department of Education and Training, a concerned group of parents, more hysteria that Australia is battling an ice epidemic,  more ‘fears that drug abuse is taking hold of the young more than ever before’, a reminder that the previous government spent $30 million on an advertising campaign that was ‘highlighting the savage effects methamphetamines have on users’, a reminder that ‘Australian National Council on Drugs chairman John Herron, a former government minister, called for children aged 6 to 12 to be be targeted by anti-drugs campaigns to help them "say no", a reference to a story where ‘In October last year three children at a NSW South Coast primary school were taken to hospital after they appeared to have taken ecstasy at lunchtime after mistaking them for strawberry lollies’, that ‘Data collected by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows that drug incidents in schools are falling’ and even that ‘serious incident reports obtained by The Daily Telegraph under Freedom of Information reveal a number of concerns’.

That’s a lot of story from an urban legend.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Everyday Examples of Drug Hysteria

If you don’t do drugs, you shouldn’t need to worry about drug policy. This is sadly not true. The effects are everywhere ... in simple news stories, in the military, in the hospital, on the street. But it’s not the result of druggies but the drug policies themselves. Most of our confrontations with drugs is due to a drug policy that drives users away from the medical world of clinics and hospitals into our everyday day lives.

The insatiable need of governments, moralists and the self righteous to demonise drugs and lock up users causes many acts of irrational behaviour which must be questioned. Before the "War on Drugs", the drug problem was a fraction of what it is today but drug hysteria is catchy and becoming more obvious. 

In just one weekend, I have found several examples of how current drug policies can effect us. I didn’t go searching for them, they were readily available as I skipped through the news. I just had to check some sources and this was what I found.

1/ More Spent on Fighting Drugs than Needed to Cover the Basics of Poverty

If the US spent just over half of what they spend on fighting illicit drugs, they could achieve universal access to basic social services in all developing countries. They currently spend about $69 billion dollars per year but if they used $40 billion of that, it would cover the important requirements below for developing countries.

Basic education for all ($6 bil.)

Water and sanitation for all ($9 bil.)

Reproductive health for all women ($12 bil.)

Basic health and nutrition ($13 bil.)

TOTAL: $40 bil.

source (part):

2/ Mexico Drug-Related Killings Soar

The "War on Drugs" has the US bullying their border countries to stem the flow of illicit drugs into the huge American market. The resulting murder & violence is mostly due to the very policy that the US try to enforce. These drugs would have no value except for their own prohibitionist approach which has created a market worth about 8% of world trade or $400 billion dollars. After nearly 40 years of the Zero Tolerance approach, the death toll is massive and drug use is 10 fold to what it once was.

The number of murders in Mexico linked to organised crime has jumped by almost 50% so far this year to 1,378, according to Mexico's attorney general. Eduardo Medina Mora also said more than 4,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon took office 18 months ago, declaring war on the drug cartels. About 450 of those were police, soldiers, or prosecutors. It comes as police in northern Mexico found four severed heads in ice-chests outside a motorway convenience store.

Five bodies - some decapitated - were also discovered in a city on the border with the US state of Texas.

The government says the violence is a symptom of the drug gangs' desperation amid the nation-wide crackdown involving more than 20,000 soldiers and police. "Evidently when they are cornered and weakened, they have to respond with violence," Mr Medina Mora said in an interview on local radio. 


Still, last week's murder of Millan, one of the the highest-ranking police officials ever to be gunned down in Mexico, set a new benchmark in the Colombia-style drug carnage that continues to rage from Tijuana to Cancun. Mexico has already logged almost 1,200 drug-related killings this year — putting it well on track to break last year's record of almost 2,500 — as an increasingly chaotic array of drug gangs fight one another for trafficking turf, and against any officials who dare to confront them.


3/ Medical Uses of Cannabis

The NSW government wants to trial a cannabis based drug, Sativex and a quick check found that this beneficial medication was previously rejected by John Howard. Howard’s personal, misinformed views stopped a perfectly safe and effective treatment from helping thousands. A drug that helps sufferers of cancer, AIDS, MS etc. should be welcomed but it took a change of government for it to become a possibility. By the way, it is not smoked but administered via an oral spray.

After politicians in the Australian Capital Territory voted to allow doctors to determine when cannabis was appropriate for their patients, intense lobbying by the federal government resulted in the legislation being overturned.


4/ Noll Admits to Drug and Booze Addiction

This was the headline splashed across the News Ltd websites. The media’s role in spreading sensationalist drug hysteria is just common place now. Not one article did mention that Shannon Noll had any sort of continuing drug problem or was ever addicted to any drug ... because he wasn't. Including the word ‘addiction’ in the headline is disgraceful and misleading.

5/ Human Rights

Drug Free Australia (DFA) are promoting that people should sign a petition that supports the Zero Tolerance policy of the UN. Not happy with Harm Minimisation saving lives in Australia, they want more dead addicts in Australia and worldwide. I checked out the Berkley report to see what they had to say about the UN’s stance on human rights for drug users. Of course if the DFA support something, it’s bound to involve massive human rights violations for the sake of ‘family values’. Not surprisingly, one board member of DFA, Brian Watters is also a member of the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

In relation to UN programmes, as a result of control by the main donor states, spending on drug control by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the secretariat that carries out the substantive work of the UN on drug control, is heavily weighted towards simple enforcement of drug control treaties, with little, if any, operational attention to the human rights dimensions of states’ enforcement of these treaties or of their domestic drug legislation.  Moreover, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the monitoring body for the UN drug control conventions, has stated explicitly that it will not discuss human rights. 

Despite the primacy of human rights obligations under the UN Charter, the approach of the UN system and the international community to addressing the tensions between drug control and human rights remains marked by an ambiguity that is inexcusable in the face of the egregious human rights abuses perpetrated in the course of enforcing drug prohibition. 

-Berkley Report: The Need for a Human Rights-Based Approach to International Drug Policy

6/ Army Losing More Soldiers Through Drugs than War

With drug testing becoming more common, some are now questioning what the real differences will be to the pre-testing days. Has recreational drug use really been a problem to sports competition or police and military personnel? Is the extension of testing into people’s personal lives really necessary if it doesn’t effect their performance or ability to perform their duties? What price do we pay for knowing this extra information?

THE British army is losing the equivalent of nearly a battalion to illegal drug use every year, research shows.

Research from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a defence think tank, showed the losses were greater than the total number of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An article in RUSI's journal showed an increase in positive test results for illegal substances, through the defence ministry's compulsory testing (CDT) program, from 517 cases in 2003 to 769 last year - almost a battalion's worth.


Tuesday, 20 May 2008

More Evidence for Zero Tolerance Twats

How much evidence do we need to prove something? The answer is not ‘this much’ or ‘that much’ but who is interpreting the data. If someone has a mental block that won’t allow facts to influence the foundations of their argument, then no amount of evidence will suffice. They will just change their argument. 

A recent report reinforced the fact that some heroin use is started by our physical makeup rather than some random display of weakness. Will the hard line Zero Tolerance proponents finally admit they are wrong. Somehow I doubt it.

A recent research finding has driven the Zero Tolerance argument deeper into the abyss. Scientists from the Howard Florey Institute have found the actual receptor in the brain that influences the desire to take opiates like heroin. This is more damming evidence against the argument that heroin users are just weak losers with no will power and medical treatment like methadone or prescription heroin should not be used.

Researchers from the Howard Florey Institute, the Victorian College of Pharmacy and the University of Melbourne investigated if there was a receptor in the brain that was particular to opiates. They bred mice without the suspected adenosine A2A receptor in the lab and found that they didn’t self administer opiates that was readily available to them.

“This was the first study to implicate the receptor in self-motivation to take heroin and other opiates.”

"This receptor clearly plays a major role in opiate use and therefore abuse, as the mice were simply not interested in taking morphine despite it being freely available"

-Professor Andrew Lawrence

This research is another in the long line of recent findings that opiate addiction is far more complex that first thought. The main difference from older research is that drugs have always been the cause for mental health issues but recent findings show the opposite. Heavy use of mind bending drugs are still responsible for mental health problems but science is now discovering that often the mental health issue comes first and then leads to drug use. This leaves the Zero Tolerance and abstinence only campaigners with some major hurdles to overcome. Most experts agree that combining some form of therapy with medical treatment is ideal, but the focus is now on treating addiction with medicine. Those who are anti Harm Minimisation claim that addicts are weak and just need to confront their addiction, often rejecting medical treatment like Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) programs. 

"Although the drug-taking effects and behaviours of these mice were diminished, they still relapsed into drug-seeking after a period of withdrawal.

"This indicates that the adenosine A2A receptor has a role in the `getting high' aspects of addiction, but not in the adaptations that contribute to relapse after going cold turkey."

-Professor Andrew Lawrence

The adenosine A2A receptor proves that some individuals can have a greater tendency to use opiates because of their physical makeup. This completely wipes out the Zero Tolerance argument for punitive action against repeat drug offenders. It also brings into question the strategy of not using medication like methadone and instead relying solely on will power, god or threats of losing your children and going to jail.

Australia has over 50,000 heroin users. There are effective medical treatments available, such as methadone, buprenorphine and suboxone, as well as psychological interventions, but a better understanding of how heroin affects the brain could lead to improvements and broadening of these treatment options.

-Bio-Medicine Article on Professor Andrew Lawrence's research

More medical treatment options are needed and relying on methadone and buprenorphine is not enough. We have such an array of options that are not on the list of available treatments. Slow release oral morphine (SROM), prescription heroin, hydromorphone, injectable methadone are all available overseas but Australia refuses to look at them. The Zero Tolerance crowd are also totally opposed to any expansion of substitution treatment and actively campaign to reduce the few options we have. Their only aim is total abstinence which is contradictory to the illness of addiction. They treat addiction as a moral issue which eliminates the science of a medical condition and allows addicts to be judged for their drug use. Sure, some people take drugs for the thrill and some as an escape. There is no one reason to start taking drugs but the reality that it is enjoyable or it is inevitable for some is completely over looked. The sole equation is drugs = evil. Forget the history of every society that has existed, the farcical hypocrisy of the legal drug, alcohol and the millions of drug consumers who have no problem at all.

There is no clearer example of science versus abstinence only groups than the attitude towards MMT. Although opposed to MMT, the abstinence only groups want tighter restrictions on methadone dosing. They claim that methadone was intended as a stop gap for heroin addicts until they could start to decrease their dose with the goal of being drug free. That was 20 years ago and the latest research has had a 360 degrees turn around. Methadone was actually never meant to be short term at all but Australia followed the flawed US approach which is very much a Zero Tolerance strategy. The abstinence only groups now want the government to cease funding for treatment that doesn't promote the aim of being completely drug free. 

Addiction is a chronic, incurable disease. We do not tell diabetics, blood pressure patients, and epileptics to discontinue their medications because we know that if they do, the active disease will return. Why, then, do we encourage recovering, thriving MMT patients to do so, when the relapse rates for those discontinuing MMT is greater than 90%? Methadone is the most effective modality of treatment for opiate addiction available today--far more effective than traditional rehabs and 12 step groups alone. By no means is it the treatment of choice for every opiate addict--however, if abstinent methods have failed many times over, there is little point in continuing to try the same thing expecting different results "this time". 

-Director, ARM-Texas Chapter. C.M.A. (Certified Methadone Advocate) 

Relapse is seen as a weakness to the total abstinence crowd and the likes of Drug Free Australia (DFA), Ann Bressington, Chris Pyne, Family First, Miranda Devine, Bronwyn Bishop or other followers of the Swedish Zero Tolerance model want those who relapse to be forced into abstinence based rehabs or jail. They even call this ‘compassionate’ treatment by forcing addicts to face their addiction but again they fail to acknowledge medical research or facts. To them, substitution treatment is a ‘crutch’ or a ‘cop out’ and has no place in a Zero Tolerance policy. It seems scientific facts and medical research is a side issue that gets in the way of their faith based ideology.

Methadone is commonly referred to as "replacement" or "substitution" therapy, and most think that this means it is replacing the heroin, etc that the patient was abusing, when in fact, it is replacing the natural endorphins no longer being manufactured by the patient's brain, in the same way synthetic insulin substitutes for that not being made by the diabetic's own organs. Methadone treatment enables the patient to return to a normal, productive, law abiding life in a great many cases, and even when the patient continues abusing other drugs, etc, it may lower their chances of contracting a disease by reducing their drug use, and enables them to see a medical professional for assistance and referrals on a daily basis.

-Director, ARM-Texas Chapter. C.M.A. (Certified Methadone Advocate) 

So has this latest finding changed anything? Again it’s only quantifiable by who takes these new findings onboard. The Zero Tolerance supporters and total abstinence zealots are not interested in science one little bit. They have an agenda and drug addicts are just a pawn in their selfish game of power. These people are not going to go away without a struggle and fighting against facts, research, evidence and common sense is an art form for them matched only by religious extremists, which many of them are are anyway.


Addiction Treatment Watchdog

Prof. Andrew Lawrence

Research Sheds New Light on Heroin Addiction

Monday, 19 May 2008

The Start of Prescription Heroin in Australia?

This week, Senator Lyn Allison put forward a motion for a trial of prescription heroin to the Australian senate. Although only a motion, it is hopefully the start of a heroin trial that Australia desperately needs. 
The last time a heroin trial was proposed, 10 years ago, it was supported by The Libs, The ALP, The Democrats, The Greens, most states, the AFP and most health organisations but was vetoed by John Howard. The Australian Heroin Diaries is extremely critical of hysterical conservative journalists, the influence of the religious right and US interference that added to John Howard’s personal views and halted the last attempt to trial prescription heroin. Hopefully the new government will live up to their claims that future policies will be ‘evidence based’ and give it’s support.
Date 15 May, 2008
The Leader of the Australian Democrats (Senator Allison), pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 70—That the Senate—
  (a)  notes that:
    (i)  the Danish Parliament approved in February 2008 a pilot medical scheme to prescribe heroin to 500 of Denmark's most seriously addicted and marginalised citizens,
    (ii)  heroin is to be prescribed in combination with methadone with the aim of rehabilitation and to reduce the criminal activity of addicts,
    (iii)  prescription heroin for treatment of severe cases of addiction exists as a therapeutic option in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Netherlands and is being established in Germany, and
    (iv)  trials of prescribing heroin for the treatment of opiate dependency in Spain and Canada also show favourable results; and
  (b)  encourages the Government to closely monitor this and other pilot programs and to consider conducting a similar project in Australia.
Question put and negatived. All Australian Greens senators, by leave, recorded their votes for the ayes.
Thanks to DFA Watch for the tipoff.
DFA Watch go into more detail of a heroin trial proposed by Senator Lyn Allison: What Allison can see that Roxon can't...
Below is an interesting article describing the success of the Swiss prescription heroin program. If you have any doubts, read on.
Swiss Harm Reduction Policy for Heroin Results in Less Problematic Heroin Use
Swiss researchers involved in 15 years of harm reduction approaches to heroin use have managed to reduce heroin use four-fold, according to results published in the British medical journal the Lancet last week. The Swiss approach includes safe injection sites, needle exchange programs, methadone or buprenorphine maintenance programs, and heroin maintenance programs.
Critics of this pragmatic approach had warned it would attract new drug users and keep current addicts strung out longer. But in their study of more than 9,000 heroin users who underwent treatment -- including opiate maintenance -- between 1991 and 2005, Stohler and his colleague, Dr. Carlos Nordt, found that the incidence of "problematic" heroin users was declining at a rate of 4% a year.
"As a result (of heroin-assisted treatments), people can lead normal lives, go to work, not obsess about buying the drug, when they know they can relieve their craving legally," study coauthor Dr. Rudolf Stohler of the Psychiatric University Hospital in Zurich told Reuters Health.
The researchers found that half of Swiss heroin users enter an opiate maintenance treatment program within two years. They calculate that the incidence of regular heroin use has declined by 82% since 1990, when more than 800 people sought treatment. That figure was down to 150 last year.
"Heroin can be prescribed to people who have failed two former therapies," Dr. Stohler told Reuters Health. The practice is to give addicts one gram a day.
And the Swiss may have succeeded in making heroin boring, the researchers suggested. "As the Swiss population supported this drug policy, this medicalization of opiate dependence changed the image of heroin use as a rebellious act to an illness that needs therapy," Drs. Nordt and Stohler wrote. "Finally," they add, "heroin seems to have become a 'loser drug,' with its attractiveness fading for young people."