Pubdate: Wed, 07 Nov 2001
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2001 The Miami Herald
Author: Robert Sharpe


In her Oct. 26 column, Parallel tragedies of Colombia, the U.S., Maria 
Cristina Caballero noted that ``it might be worthwhile to cut the flow of 
drug money by providing treatment to U.S. drug addicts.''

Heroin produced in Afghanistan is primarily consumed in Europe, a continent 
already experimenting with public-health alternatives to the drug war, 
alternatives with previously unforeseen implications.

Switzerland's heroin-maintenance trials, which are modeled after the 
methadone-maintenance programs pioneered in the United States, have shown 
such promise at reducing drug-related disease, death and crime that they 
are being replicated in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Providing chronic addicts with standardized doses in a treatment setting 
has been shown to eliminate many of the problems associated with the use of 
black-market heroin. Addicts would not be sharing needles if not for 
zero-tolerance laws that restrict access to clean syringes; nor would they 
be committing crimes if not for artificially inflated illicit market prices.

If expanded, prescription-heroin maintenance ultimately would deprive 
organized crime of its client base. This would render illegal heroin 
trafficking unprofitable, spare future generations from addiction and 
significantly undermine the Taliban's funding.

Harm-reduction policies have the potential to reduce the perils of both 
drug use and drug prohibition.

Lindesmith Center
Drug Policy Foundation
Washington, D.C.
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