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by Peter Moskos

August 20, 2009

Food (or drugs) for thought

John Tierney writes:
Treating hard-core heroin addicts with their drug of choice seems to work better than treating them with methadone, according to first rigorous test of the approach performed in North America. In the study, the addicts who went to a clinic to receive injections of a heroin compound were more likely to remain in treatment and to refrain from illicit activities than were the addicts who were given methodone. The results are being published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Methodone works decently well,” Ben told me, “but a lot of addicts just don’t like it, so they don’t go in and get treatment. The advantage of prescription heroin is that they’ll go in because they want it. It attracts a whole group of people who wouldn’t get treatment at all, so the likelihood is there’s less street use and crime as a result.”
I'm not certain what I think about this. But I'm not fan of methadone. In fact, I've often said, "Why not just give them heroin?" It certainly would cut down on crime. I don't think legal heroin would increase use. But what about free heroin?

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