The legalization of programs allowing the use of addictive drugs has been one of the most debated topics to date. As such, the decision of the Swiss government to make a permanent program for the legal heroin usage further fueled the said issue. Just recently in the article entitled “Swiss voters approve legal heroin program” it was reported that the most comprehensive heroin program in the world, which is situated in Switzerland, has been finally approved to become permanent.
According to the article, since the heroin program’s first inception in 1994, 23 functional centers all over Switzerland offers the service of providing selected heroin addicts to receive carefully measured dose of heroin drug twice a day. The aim of the program was to help drug addicts to function in the society and to reduce crime perpetrated by drug addicts. However, it was also pointed out that many people and organizations criticize the pertained legalization because they claimed that such action from the Swiss government could further fuel the abuse of drug use and will not guarantee to heal addiction.
Yet it was argued by supporters that after the heroin program was launched, large groups of drug users that were openly shooting up in the parks, and were the perpetrators of crime since 1980’s and 1990’s were reduced. Likewise, other neighboring countries are also running smaller programs similar to the approach of the Swiss. Hence, the heroin program is perceived as a positive solution for the issue of crime and health improvement for drug addicts.
In my own perspective, I believe that the legalization of heroin program is a good approach in terms of improving the health and daily lives of addicts for them to function in the society. The availability of centers assisting addicts with their heroin issues and the treatment incorporated within the program is centered in helping the patients to undergo therapies that are supervised by healthcare professionals.
Heroin dependents would be able to control their consumption of the drug because trained medical professionals will be the ones prescribing the proper dosage of heroin to be injected. In the long run the doses of drug being administered will be decreased little by little until such time that the person under the medication is free from their addiction. Alongside with the said approach, the addicts would also be taken cared of in terms of their psychological well-being through counseling carried out by psychiatrists and social workers present in the centers.
One of the most important points that the article presented is the fact that addicts are able to keep their own paraphernalia in cups labeled with their own names and they use sterilized equipments most especially the needles that serves as medium for them to inject the drug. It has been found out that many heroin addicts who are sharing needles to inject heroin significantly increases their risk from acquiring viral diseases most especially those that are transmitted through blood such as AIDS.
This could happen if heroin addicts will be left in “shooting galleries” (i. e. parks at night or vacant buildings) with other addicts where no sterilized equipments are available. As “shooting galleries” do not have trained professionals to monitor the strength of the drug and its purity, each unmonitored self-administration by heroin addicts will bring with it the high possibility of overdose and contaminants that may lead to illnesses and even death.
Likewise, it is common in areas such as those “shooting galleries” to use multiple drugs other than heroin, thereby resulting to frequent hospitalization and death. Given the said perspective, I think that the legalization of the heroin program promotes a healthier facility where heroin addicts will have access using equipments that are well maintained by professionals and moderates the usage of the said drug through proper monitoring and supervision.
Despite the positive features that the legalization of heroin program posited, the United States, United Nation Narcotics Board and many individuals still opposes to the program because they believe that it is reinforcing the abuse of heroin and might pave way for the use of other drugs. However, one pro-heroin legalization individual pointed out that: "I think it's very important to help these people, but not to facilitate the using of drugs.
To back up Borer’s claim, 63. 2% of 26.6 million Swiss voters voted against the decriminalization of marijuana use. This proves that although the people voted for the permanence of the heroin program, they are not facilitating the use of other drugs such as marijuana and they know their limits when it comes to drug use. Other than this, many other countries including Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Belgium and Australia are running test trials modeled on the Swiss heroin program, proving that the program itself is helping many addicts.