Skip to comments.Switzerland's Liberal Drug Policy Seems To Work, Study Says
Posted on 06/03/2006 12:37:09 PM PDT by Know your rights
Switzerland's policy of offering heroin addicts substitution treatment with methadone or buprenorphine has led to a decline in the number of new heroin users in Zurich, according to a paper published in this week's issue of The Lancet.
Switzerland has implemented various policies to try and reduce harm to dependent heroin users, including needle-exchange services, low-threshold methadone programmes, and heroin-assisted treatments. However, critics say that these policies may lead to a growing number of new drug users and lengthen the period of heroin addiction.
To investigate, Carlos Nordt and Rudolf Stohler from the Psychiatric University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland analysed data from over 7250 patients in Zurich who presented for substitution treatments with methadone or buprenorphine over 13 years from 1991. From this data they estimated trends in the number of new heroin users. They found that the incidence of heroin use dropped from 850 new users in 1990 to 150 in 2002. The authors contrast the situation with heroin use in the UK, Italy, and Australia, which has continued to rise. They also found a low cessation (quit) rate and therefore, the overall number of heroin dependents, whether in treatment or not, only declined by 4% per year.
Dr Nordt states: "As the Swiss population supported this drug policy, this medicalisation of opiate dependence changed the image of heroin use as a rebellious act to an illness that needs therapy. Finally, heroin seems to have become a 'loser drug', with its attractiveness fading for young people. Nevertheless, whether drug policy had a positive effect on the number of new heroin users or not, our data could not confirm an increase of heroin incidence as expected by the critics of the liberal Swiss drug policy."
Sure, it "might" backfire, perhaps even "badly" so, in some hypothetical fantasy, but for now, here in reality, it hasn't backfired - but rather it seems to work.
Meth is much harder on its users than is heroin ... but why would that mean a bad backfire, when their heroin policy seems to be succeeding?
Yes, according to the criminals it enriches and the LEOs and bureacrats it employs.
I don't want this Land of the Free to become another Singapore ... do you?
LOL, I keep seeing that "noose" lately.
SOMALIA: Libertarian Paradise.
In what sense is Somalia "libertarian"?
methadone treatment is available around the USA---but one is still physically addited to opiates. WHAT A DRAG!!!
Imagine that. A study, published in the media, showing how effective a liberal policy is.
I bet they can even provide a graph to back it up.
The black market established from the prohibition of cocaine is one reason for the swelling meth problem. If the cost of cocaine was reduced with decriminalization the incentive to make meth would be reduced accordingly.
If you had to choose between meth addiction and cocaine addiction most health/psych care professionals I am associated with would pick cocaine as the lesser of the two evils.
The WOD has unintended consequences.
You don't actually have statistics to back up your claim, do you? I'm assuming you don't simply because Singapore's number of heroin addicts has been rising since the mid 80s.
Dependance is distinct from addiction. Addiction includes a seeking behavior and other cultural associations. Soldiers dependant on opiates are much more easily detoxed because they no longer have a need for the drug. Once back at home the stresses that were an incentive to smoke opium are all but gone and recidivism is very low.
Actually, the study was originally published in The Lancet. Which is the definitive source for the hard left on Iraqi civilian casualties.
Just because a media outlet calls itself a "medical journal" doesn't means it's above reproach. More often, it just means they'd like you to think they are.
That's a good analogy.
Every war ever fought in the history of mankind has had unintended consequences.
As far as I'm concerned, Singapore's "solution" could be 100% efficacious and I'd still find it counter to the principles of individual liberty. Furthermore, anyone who would back such a penalty for drug use, and I know that you don't, is a numbskull.
A junkie-friendly nanny-state. How libertarian.
Add in the costs of burglaries [to get money to buy high priced drugs]; the criminal culture of gangs that are enabled by the high price of drugs; the likelihood that many of you reading this post would have a criminal record if you had been caught smoking dope or whatever; the load the war on drugs has placed on the judicial system and the jails .., and the fact that the war on drugs will only be won when there is no cash and all of us citizens have our very own RFID embedded in our bodies.
The Harrison Act was unconstitutional and all the Federal laws and regulations since then have only made matters worse.
Why do you claim that Somalia is a libertarian paradise? Libertarian don't claim Somalia.
Libertarians generally look to the most free countries in the world, such as the U.S., Chile, Switzerland, Singapore and New Zealand, and then identify where these countries are inconsistent with their commitment to freedom.
BTW According to Freedom House, Somalia is one of the most unfree countries in the world, just this side of Cuba.
And, on the issue of drugs, are you saying that Somalia has a liberatarian approach to drugs? I thought repressive Muslim countries have the kind of drug policy that conservatives advocate, but what do I know?
Switzerland has the highest percentage Muslim population in Europe. Their progressive policies don't have much longer to live anyway.
Genuine thanks for the clarification. I had no idea.
I agree with you - that is a good thing. Unless you prefer the totalitarian mess that the WOD has brought us. Or do you prefer that noose thing for people who use naughty vegetables?
Switzerland is not a junkie-nannie state. Because drug-addicts do not rapidly succumb to illness (leading to death), they are not involved in pushing drugs onto junior high school children, street prostitution, violent crime and the like, but can hold down steady jobs. These addicts generally pay for their own jobs and do not receive welfare. Hopefully, they will end their abuse of drugs, just as we all hope that those use abuse alcohol and tobacco in this country, but the social problems we all face because of legal drugs are not comparable to those who face from illegal drugs. It is in our country that drug-addicts are a major burden on the taxpayer, not even counting the cost of police and incarceration, but only counting the cost of taxpayer-funded drug maintenance programs, welfare, food stamps, etc., to drug addicts.
I need hard data to back up skepticism, huh?
In other words, all you have to offer is hot air.
Instead of projecting radical beliefs on everyone who says something you don't like, maybe you should stick with what was said. Singapore ain't my argument. Don't lump me in with those who have made it theirs.
And I stand by my statement. Switzerland practices junkie-welfare. If it were doing this with anything other than drugs, libertarians would condemn it... if they even cared enough to discuss it (and since it wouldn't involve narcotics, chances are, they wouldn't).
Which is my ultimate point. Libertarians have devolved from an anti-government party to a pro-drug movement.
As I said above, their October 2004 survey was the definitive source for the left on Iraqi civilian war casualties. They were also shown to have inflated those statistics by including every civilian death in the country into their casualty figures, regardless of the cause.
The Lancet is also a go-to source for Planned Parenthood and NARAL, mainly in the area of Emgency Contraceptives. The Lancet even went so far as to use its pages to suggest that Andrew von Eschenbach was an unfit FDA director because he was too beholden to Bush and his anti-abortion right-wing base (just the kind of findings you'd expect from a prestigious medical journal).
The Lancet also once announced a "near-unanimous scientific consensus that rising levels of greenhouse gases would cause global warming and other climate changes." Then they wrote a series of articles detailing how global-warming was creating a new generation of disease that would effectively obliterate humanity, thus affirming its existence (thus pinning it on greenhouse gases/mankind). These above-reproach findings were recently optioned by Al Gore, and are now playing at a multiplex near you.
My skepticism of The Lancet and its agenda is very well-founded.
THERE IS NO CHOICE BETWEEN STINKING FISH.
"Meth is much harder on its users than is heroin "
Find an instance where I ever have and get back to me.
No comment on the Official Swiss Government source?
VonMises.org had an email out recently describing how Somalia can function [such as it does] without a true central Government. It is very much a clan or tribal thing. There wasn't that much in the article in terms of making that case that this was a good thing. The email did to some extent explain why the half hearted attempt at humanitarian aid and nation building a la the 1990s was doomed to failure.
BTW as I understand it,the anarchist wing of the small "l" libertarians, really does exist. Rothbard a leading libertarian of the recent past was an advocate of no government. I consider myself to be a libertarian, but Rothbard's belief in the idea of the benefits of anarchy is / was total nonsense.
Obviously, the findings of a sociologist on the payroll of a parliamentary-socialist government hold more sway with you than I.
Did you want to debate specifics?
If so, the first thing I'd like to know is what method the Swiss used for counting junkies in Zurich in 1996, and what method they use today.
I'd also like to know what method the "regressives" (Britian, Italy, Australia) use to do the same.
We'll go from there.
Nanny-state & libertarian are mutually exclusive. A truly libertarian country would let the junkies kill themselves, which is ok by me, except that they steal & push their junk on kids to pay for their habit.
The Swiss are simply trying something different, that MIGHT work, or MIGHT NOT. We know for sure that the current WOD is a failure - just look around. Drugs are plentiful in the US & Europe.
Perhaps the Swiss have figured out that the crime & drug dealing is WAY worse than giving the junkies their daily fix. Maybe they figure that if the junkies are not buying on the street, the street dealers will dry up for lack of steady customers. The counseling that accompanies the free fix MIGHT convince some of the junkies to quit - their dealer certainly wont.
If someone needed my help, I would give it. If what I was doing was not helping, but was making things worse, I would TRY SOMETHING ELSE. To continue to do the wrong thing is to become part of the problem.
If Somalia was Libertarian they wouldn't be having the problems they're having now.
And, for the record, the article you link to isn't a seperate study supporting the findings from The Lancet/Zurich University study. It is a story about The Lancet/Zurich U study. So if I wasted your precious time, we're even.
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