The Providence Crosstown Clinic in British Columbia, Canada has taken the next step in addiction treatment services. This next step comes in the form of a medical grade of heroin called diacetylmorphine. Doctors at the Crosstown Clinic are injecting a select group of heroin addicts with it several times day, in order to prevent abuse of the street version.
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leading the charge, the Canadian government has loosened the reins on addiction treatment services over the past few years. The use of diacetylmorphine is one of the fruits of this progressive stance. It also flies in the face of conventional wisdom, especially the stigma it attaches to heroin use.
Research seems to support the use of diacetylmorphine, at least as a last resort for addicts who don’t respond to more conventional treatments. As a group, diacetylmorphine patients have shown a marked improvement in their physical and mental health since starting this replacement treatment. They are also much less likely to commit crimes that are typically related to heroin use.
There are stringent requirements for this new addiction treatment service. It is only open to addicts who have used heroin for more than five years. The diacetylmorphine plan is also restricted to addicts for whom drugs like Suboxone and methadone have failed multiple times. Lastly, patients must also have physical and mental complications that are due to their heroin use.
Once approved, patients must report to the clinic up to three times a day to receive their injections. This is of course a strain for those who wish to continue working or take care of their family, but it is still far better than the alternative. Not surprisingly, the dropout rate has been very low.
Despite resistance from conservative quarters, the physicians at The Crosstown Clinic insist that the treatment is working. They claim that access to diacetylmorphine is a human right of every Canadian citizen, along with other aspects of health care. We can only hope that this progressive fervor someday finds its way south.