Addiction: Fewer addicts thanks to methadone

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Addiction: Fewer addicts thanks to methadone
Addiction: Fewer addicts thanks to methadone

Fewer addicts thanks to methadone

Possible heroin beginners are deterred by medical methadone programs. This is what Swiss addiction doctors conclude from the analysis of long-term drug data from the canton of Zurich. From 1990 to 2002, the number of new heroin users there fell from around 850 to around 150, report Carlos Nordt and Rudolf Stohler from the Psychiatric University Clinic in Zurich. Switzerland has relied on easily accessible methadone programs for heroin addicts for years.

Due to medical substitution, the public perceives heroin use more as an illness, says Nordt. Heroin, once considered "rebellious", has therefore acquired the image of a "loser drug" and has become less attractive, especially for young people. However, the Zurich doctors did not examine whether potential heroin users might have switched to other drugs.

Critics accuse methadone programs of indirectly promoting heroin use and prolonging addiction. In fact, however, in the canton of Zurich, which is home to a fifth of all Swiss heroin users and a quarter of all Swiss heroin users, the number of heroin users has fallen by a total of around 80 percent since 1990. Nordt and Stohler emphasize that this is in contrast to the situation in Great Britain, Italy and Australia, where heroin consumption continues to increase. The total number of heroin addicts in the Swiss canton also fell by four percent a year.

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