The Swiss Heroin Experiment
Like the United States, Switzerland deals with drug problems within its borders every day. But the Swiss looked at the ways that the U.S. deals with the problem of heroin addiction and abuse and decided that more progressive measures were needed if any long-lasting change was to be enacted.
Creating a Needle Park for Heroin Addicts
In the early 1990’s, the Swedish government wanted to stop the social problems being caused by heroin addicts on the streets of major cities. They realized that creating stricter drug laws would do nothing to solve the problem, so instead they created “zones” in public places where heroin drug addicts could use the drug without fear of repercussions. These controversial “needle parks” kept many heroin addicts off the streets, but also led to the sharing of needles among users. Consider that AIDS transmissions among heroin users were at an all time high, this forced the government to enact clean needle programs to distribute to users. By 1995, public outcry forced the government to end the heroin program.
Prescribing Heroin for the Heroin Addict
Still in search of a solution, the Swiss government took even more drastic steps. In 1994, they began prescribing heroin-based cigarettes to the addicted as a means of providing a safer environment for them to partake. These cigarettes contained “clean” doses of the drug and in order to receive them, the individual had to take part in drug addiction counseling and other related programs.
Jury Still Out on Heroin Addiction among the Swiss
These pilot programs did not reduce the number of heroin addicts in Switzerland, although they did lower the crime and heroin overdose rate among addicts somewhat. The government chose not to continue the efforts until further research was available, but continues to search for the most effective means possible to help heroin addicts within the country’s borders.
Heroin Addiction Help in Switzerland
In addition to the unique efforts, there are a number of traditional heroin drug rehab facilities in Switzerland that have helped countless heroin addicts kick their habit. These programs focus on the physical and psychological components of opiate addictions and help address both through heroin detox, heroin counseling and aftercare.