Taylor West, [email protected]
Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is considering expanding the prescription of injectable, pharmaceutical heroin to severely addicted users. The plan would encourage qualified and certified doctors to prescribe diamorphine to addicts for whom methadone treatment have failed.
Recent research from the National Addiction Centre in London shows that some drug users whose addictions do not respond to orally-administered methadone are able to stabilize their addictions -- and their lives -- on a carefully managed injection diamorphine program. Currently, methadone accounts for 96 percent of all opiate prescriptions for treating drug dependency in the UK. While British doctors have long been allowed to prescribe injectable heroin, it accounts for less than two percent of the total number of prescriptions for opiates.
The NHS proposal would encourage qualified doctors to apply for diamorphine prescription licenses. This license would allow a doctor to prescribe heroin as part of a drug addict's treatment if the doctor's clinical judgment deems it appropriate and support services are available. Estimates from local drug organizations indicate that approximately 20,000 severely addicted drug users could benefit from the treatment if the proposal is adopted.
For more on heroin and methadone maintenance, check out The Lindesmith Center's online collection of articles and research on heroin and methadone maintenance: