Well, it’s about time. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine based on research conducted by (natch) Canadians suggests that the best way to treat heroin addicts is… prescriptions for heroin.
Apparently a lot of heroin users don’t like methadone or develop a resistance to it, and many in the study did not comply with that replacement regimen, whereas the heroin users given heroin — the pure pharmaceutical kind, not street junk, and injected twice daily by skilled professionals — seemed pleased with their treatment…
All were screened for outside junk use, and while some methadone subjects backslid, the heroin subjects were shown not to have sought outside heroin. In fact, general illegal activity fell by 67 percent in the heroin group, and only 48 percent in the methadone group.
Local experts say such a regimen will never go over here, but we’d like to know why not. The program promises great savings: The heroin used to treat addicts will be much cheaper than the sort marked up by various gun-toting middlemen in the streets, and fewer of its users will wind up draining taxpayer dollars in prison if allowed to nod peacefully in their slums. If doctors consider injuries and chronic conditions suitable for treatment with painkillers, why not allow them to prescribe heroin to those unable to cope with the pain of living? If conservatives insist, we can make the junkies prove their need before certified boards, perhaps by reciting symbolist poetry or performing old Lou Reed songs on acoustic guitars.
Plus, if this sort of thinking catches on, it will benefit others as well. Certainly we would take better care of our cholesterol if rice cakes, bluefin tuna, and yogurt were covered by our insurance.