Officials in Canada have now legalized the prescription heroin alternative diacetylmorphine in a bold and radical new policy maneuver. The language contained in Health Canada’s Special Access Program outlines a new proposal that would allow physicians to prescribe the pharmaceutical grade heroin to opioid dependent people who pose extreme risks to themselves and others due to their substance abuse.
The move was met with little opposition and resistance from lawmakers in the beleaguered country as heroin and opioid derivatives like fentanyl continue to ravage the population. Clearly the current war on drugs has produced dismal results and the legislators in Canada seem to be reflecting this mindset.
Progressive Legislation a Good Sign
This progressive new stance and shift in ideology has been slowly evolving over time as we’ve begun to see how ineffective the current way of combating the drug crisis has been going. Harsher punishment and criminalizing addicts has not been making the epidemic get any better, in fact it seems to be doing quite the opposite. Countries like Denmark and Sweden are also beginning to embrace similar changes of legislation. That leaves all eyes on the United States and what their plan is in response to this health crisis.
The administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has now set the standards very high in how to curtail this kind of rampant drug activity. Earlier this year in April, the government heralded their intent to abolish all marijuana prohibition as well. The idea behind the initiative being to tax, regulate and keep the substances away from children. The measure to approve legalized heroin is simply an extension of this new liberal reform happening across the board.
Medical Oversight in Injection Sites Show Promise
The injection sites located in Vancouver have been very successful according to Dr. Scott MacDonald, the head physician at Crosstown clinic in Providence. His compelling testimony earlier this year before the senate in Capitol Hill concerning the efficacy of this kind of evidence-based treatment was very encouraging. The preamble to his address of the senate members highlighted a very positive outlook:
“At Providence Crosstown Clinic 140 people are receiving daily treatment with injectable opioids, an intensified form of medication assisted treatment. I want to thank the Government of British Columbia for supporting our clinic and making the delivery of this treatment possible in Vancouver. About half are receiving treatment with hydromorphone a widely available licensed pain medication, the remainder receive diacetylmorphine.
Our patients can come up to three times a day for treatment, half come twice per day and the other half come three times a day. About a third take a small dose of methadone with their last session at night. All these patients have a chronic disease, a medical condition for life that can be successfully managed. Treatment prevents withdrawal and stabilizes their lives. Here they have an opportunity to deal with underlying psychological and mental health issues. In time some will step down to less intensive treatments or gradually wean themselves off.”
War on Drugs Taking on a Different Light
The aforementioned statement is hard to discount and it is starting to gain traction. New Jersey has been a forerunner domestically for their new legislation aimed at eradicating opioid addiction through similar treatment centers with professional medical oversight. There are really some heartening signs beginning to take place that indicate that we are on the right path, despite the grim and bleak statistics to date.
With increased drug reform and measures designed to make recovery and treatment available to all the likelihood of an improvement in symptoms is immense. As long as resources are being used in the proper context and we ensure the people are being helped and not punished we are taking a step in the right direction.