Opiate Addiction: Heroin for Treatment?

opiate addictionDoes prescribing heroin to curb opiate addiction sound like a solid treatment plan?  British Columbia has been pursuing this option to “help” the province’s drug problem, but now the government is looking to shut the program down, angering some addicts and drug advocates.

The line of reasoning is opiate addicts will not resort to crime if doctors are allowed to prescribe the drug and it can be obtained in a more legal manner.  To a reasonable person, this seems like a logical approach.

Unfortunately, addicts are not logical beings.  This strategy is little more than government co-dependence.

Addicts and alcoholics are blessed and cursed.  When we find something that lights our inner fire, we chase it to the ends of the earth.  When that something is not harmful, it can lead to great success.  When it is harmful, the decent is often fast, and very ugly—especially in situations like opiate addiction.

We aren’t trying to be negative, but depending on the very thing to get a person out of their addiction that brought them to their place of anguish is dysfunctional thinking, to put it lightly.

The fact is addicts and alcoholics are very capable.  Some of us can white-knuckle sobriety for a time under our own free will, but we need a healthy replacement if we are to stay away from drugs and alcohol long-term.  Addiction doesn’t stop when the drugs go away; that’s when the battle begins.

Aside from the humanitarian need to help those suffering from opiate addiction and other forms of the disease, the practicality of the matter is that crime and costs go down.

Addiction is not a life one chooses.  There is no glamor in it.  Truly, the real options are jails, institutions, or death; often, it isn’t just one.  However, recovery always remains an option.  If the addict is convinced that certain death awaits him or her, and is willing to follow certain simple directions, it is likely that respite is within his or her grasp.

That might seem easier said than done. In some ways, it is.  However, drug and alcohol treatment is the best solution anyone has found thus far for long-term freedom from addiction.  Other methods may work for a while, but eventually, recovery has to move the addict or alcoholic towards freedom and self-support.  Yes, it is possible that programs such as those prescribing heroin may help some addicts clean up for some time (who knows how long), but it is also possible for a meteor to fall out of the sky, crash through my apartment, and strike me down before this gets published. [Hint: if you’re reading this, it didn’t happen.]

Sure, what addict would choose treatment and detox over a steady supply of heroin?  Yes, it provides an opportunity for the addict to catch up on obligations that had since fallen by the wayside, but what about the exit strategy?  Where is the part where the addict, you know, actually gets free of their addiction, rather than tethered to it?

What are your thoughts?  Does this seem like a reasonable treatment plan for opiate addiction?  Let us know in the comments!

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