Monday, September 28, 2009

And I guess I just don't know

I recently commented on research conducted in Canada finding heroin users like prescription heroin. Seems similar research was conducted in England, too:
(R)esearchers divided the 127 participants into three groups, giving one group heroin and giving the other two intravenous methadone and oral methadone. Although all three groups showed improved physical and mental health thanks to the counseling and social services offered by the clinics, the heroin-using group fared much better than the others. After half a year, three-quarters had largely stopped taking street heroin. And the number of crimes committed by those in the group dropped from 1,700 in the 30 days before the program began to 547 in the first six months of the trial.
Now, England is considering government implementation of such a treatment program:
Now, with results showing the trial succeeded in reducing street-drug use and crime among participants, Britain could soon become only the second country in Europe to institutionalize the program. That would mean permanent, state-funded heroin clinics would be set up across the country to treat the most heavily addicted people.
Fine and dandy, but why make state-funded clinics, requiring other people to pay for the user's heroin? Why not just make heroin legal? That's what they did in Portugal in 2001. Here are the results:
(B)etween 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.
Not only does it not increase drug use, but it would drastically decrease the number of people diagnosed with substance use disorders. Why? Because so many necessary symptoms for diagnosis are a function of the laws about drug use rather than the drug use itself. For example, one can get a DSM diagnosis of Substance Abuse with only the following symptom:
Recurrent substance-related legal problems.
So someone who gets arrested for smoking pot can get diagnosed, but I wouldn't get diagnosed for drinking alcohol - irrelevant is who uses more or any other consequence - simply that my drug of choice is legal means I can much more easily avoid that symptom.

Title from here:

Posted at Reverse Sickology

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