Do heroin harm reduction policies help create excuses for junkies?
Kevin Thompson, 43, a participant in two Canadian clinical studies where patients were given doses of pharmaceutical heroin, says he was given three fixes a day at a downtown Vancouver clinic. The injections, Thompson told a Vancouver journalist, meant he could live free from worry about how and where to obtain his next dose. “It can be a lot of hassle just to get what you need for the day,” Thompson recalled.
As an addict, Thompson says he shoplifted, scrounged for money, and woke up in an anxious state, fearing withdrawal symptoms, for years. The cycle was finally broken when he applied and was approved for two Canadian studies that are part of Vancouver’s longstanding “harm reduction” public policy. The first, the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), took place from 2005 to 2008. The Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness (SALOME) was conducted in 2013. Both provided treatment in the form of diacetylmorphine – a.k.a. prescription heroin.