With overdose numbers soaring, Norway plans to develop a government-run program to give away heroin to drug addicts.
The Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs is developing the pilot program to determine who could benefit, how it would be implemented, and how much the project would cost, Agence France Presse reported
“We hope that this will provide a solution that will give… a better quality of life to some addicts who are today out of our reach and whom current programs do not help enough,” Health Minister Bente Hoie wrote on Facebook Friday.
“We want to help those are difficult to reach, those who are not part of LAR (drug-assisted rehabilitation) and who are difficult to treat,” he also said.
Norway has one of Europe’s highest overdose mortality rates.
Based on 2015 data, Norway, at 81 deaths per million, was third after Estonia, with 132 deaths per million, and Sweden, who had 88 deaths per million, based on figures from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, according to The Guardian.
Medical heroin therapy is being tried out in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Norway to give free heroin to 400 addicts. “Addicts should be met with health care and respect, not with punishment and condemnation. We are now moving away from a moralistic approach.” #drugspolicy https://t.co/v4DMro8xn9 pic.twitter.com/71bq0eeA8d
— Cannabis Law Reform (@CLEARUK) August 10, 2018
Norway hopes to launch its project in 2020, Fox News reported.
Is giving away free heroin the way to fight drug overdoses?
The effort is expected to target up to 400 drug addicts, according to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
Advocates of the program suggest offering free heroin will lower the overdose mortality rate and crime.
In 2017, Norway was the first Scandinavian country to decriminalize drugs, The Independent reported.
That came after 266 drug-related deaths in 2014.
Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Storting Health Committee, said at the time that the nation must focus on treatment, not punishment.
“It is important to emphasize that we do not legalize cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalize,” he said.
“The change will take some time, but that means a changed vision: those who have a substance abuse problem should be treated as ill, and not as criminals with classical sanctions such as fines and imprisonment,” he said.
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