A scheme giving free heroin to Danish addicts has resulted in increased health and a reduction in crime and prostitution.
Initial reports have indicated that a trial issuing Copenhagen’s heroin addicts with free doses of the drug has been successful, with users committing less crime and demonstrating an improvement in their overall quality of life.
Twenty drug users have taken part in the programme since its launch in March, with two clinics providing morning and afternoon heroin doses. One of the participating centres, the Valmue Clinic, said addicts have shown a noticeable improvement in both their physical and psychological condition.
“They don’t have to wake up in the morning with how to get money as the first thing they think about. That gives them a surplus that means that we can talk to them about their housing situation, how we can help them apply for a disability pension if they need that, or perhaps about the child they have lost contact with,” said Valmue Clinic Head Torben Ballegaard. He added that addicts had committed fewer crimes, discontinued prostitution and put on weight during the study.
In addition to daily breakfast and a hot meal, the addicts had regular contact with nursing staff, enabling the faster discovery and treatment of illnesses, reports Politiken. “They get the courage to attend to things that they have kept to themselves – for example to say that they have shared a needle with another addict and would like to be tested,” said Vivian Kjaer, Senior Nurse with the KABS institution.
Ballegaard, however, acknowledged that while the addicts may have developed certain life skills, their chances of giving up the drug remained slim. “I can’t see any of them being able to get off heroin, but I can see some being able to live a sensible life with heroin,” he said.