» Ronniesia Reed – rreed24@my.apsu.edu

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug. Addicts of the drug become willing to do anything to get to it, including putting themselves in harmful conditions.

The way the heroin is injected into the body is dangerous as well. Addicts often are not concerned with using clean needles. According to www.avert.org, a charity website designed to inform the public about HIV and AIDS, roughly one-tenth of new HIV cases are caused by sharing used needles.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports on its website, www.drugabuse.gov, injected drug users account for an estimated 70 to 80 percent of new HIV infections each year.

Methadone is an opiate that is commonly used to treat narcotic addictions. In this case, it was used to treat, help and test the users. For me, the clinic appeared to be a unique way to help save lives.

With hopes reducing the rate of HIV infections, a clinic in Vancouver put together an experiment for heroin addicts where half of the addicts were given free medical heroin and the other half were given a synthetic version of the drug, called methadone.

According to Inger Nelson, one of the doctors of the clinic, the plan was, “to help those who are not satisfied by methadone by providing them with clean heroin, allowing them to avoid disease and the temptation of criminal acts to obtain the drug.”

Although it sounds as though they plan to provide these addicts with a place to come and do drugs freely, that was not the case.

Dr. Martin Schechter of the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine said he hopes, “the addicts will make positive changes to their lives because they won’t have to steal or prostitute themselves to get money for drugs.”

This statement is the reason I was excited to see the outcome of the project. There are addicts all around that need to be saved.

According to the Foundation for a Drug Free World, there are an estimated 16 million opiate drug users worldwide. They are looking for things like this to help them start moving in the right direction.

Although making the use of the drug more safe was the main goal, kicking the addiction was incorporated into the experiment as well.

The users in the group with the medical heroin would eventually be moved to the group with the synthetic heroin. Six people, every six months will be accepted into the clinic, with a goal of 470 people total.

If the experiment were to expand I am sure more people would join in hopes of eliminating their addiction in a safe way.

A similar study was introduced in 1992 in Switzerland. After five years of the program, it was concluded the experiment did drop the rate of crimes related to the use of heroin.

The lowered crime rate is not surprising because the main idea of these clinics is to create a place where heroin addicts can feel safe, not to do drugs, but to live.

The experiment was a clever way to attempt to save lives while also helping heroin users kick their addictions. Clearly, these addicts would not have gone to the clinic if they were not being offered free heroin.

Without the clinics, users would have just stayed where they were and continued buying, selling and using the drugs in an illegal and unsafe manner.

It was best they be taken off of the streets and put into a better environment. The clinics in place in Canada achieved this. Injected drug users were able to realize how much safer their lives could be without the use of heroin, and some were able to kick the addiction completely. TAS