15 Jan Norway’s New Approach to Heroin
Heroin is a huge problem around the world. It is one of the most addictive and lethal drugs that can be commonly found on the street. It can be found on every continent, and tends to affect both the old and the young, as well as the poor and the rich. Even wealthy, relatively happy countries in Europe suffer from a heroin problem, particularly Norway. However, there is a new train of thought that is going on in Norway that is putting forward policy that might actually be able to make a difference. Here’s some more information on how this is happening…
Norway’s heroin problem
The country of Norway is a lovely one. They rank among the happiest people on the planet, and offer a great place to live and exist for citizens and businesses alike. However, the country also suffers from a devastating heroin problem. Besides Estonia, Norway has the highest percentage of drug overdoses in all of Europe. To be precise, Norway’s overdose death per capita is 5 times higher than the rest of Europe as a whole. As it pertains to heroin, Norway is responsible for 40% of the heroin seizures across all of Europe. All of this is also underlit by the fear that the drugs found on the streets are getting stronger and more dangerous.
In order to combat this growing epidemic, there are several large cities in Norway that are considering radical new approaches to fighting the spread of heroin addiction. This new method involves legalizing a form of injectable heroin for medical purposes, to be used on addicts who are at risk of overdosing. This medical drug is called diamorphine, which has been shown to be stronger and have a greater effect on addicts than methadone. The drug would be used as a way to wean addicts off of the dangerous street drugs, and to take the drug in a controlled medical environment where they could not overdose. Over time, treatment centers could phase the drug out of addicts entirely. So far, past trials have proven to be effective at improving the social function of patients, as well as reducing the use of street drugs.
Case of treatment vs. criminalization
This case is mirror of a greater ideological conversation that exists in the world of addiction and health. Do we continue to criminalize drug users, even as such policies have shown to be completely ineffective at dealing with addiction across a society? Or do we recognize addiction for what it is, a disease and public health problem that needs to be treated in a medical fashion? If we continue to see similar cases to what is going on in Norway, we may finally see a world where it is the latter that becomes the norm.