Don’t get all excited, Bros, though and book a flight to Manitoba now so you can live your days addicted to cheap, legal heroin. This isn’t like how you can tell your doc you’re afraid of flying and get 50 Xanax, no questions asked. You’re gonna need to show you need heroin.
Health Canada has amended its regulations to allow Canadian doctors to prescribe heroin as a treatment for those who are severely addicted to the drug. Last week’s change to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act permits doctors to apply for permission under the federal Special Access Program to offer their addicted patients diacetylmorphine: pharmaceutical-grade heroin.
“A number of countries have allowed doctors to use diacetylmorphine-assisted treatment to support the small percentage of patients with opioid dependence who have not responded to other treatment options,” the regulation states. “There is also a significant body of scientific evidence supporting its use.”
Some people don’t respond to methadone, and heroin withdrawal is one of the nastiest things out there. If you need to give someone some heroin to wean themselves off heroin, you should. You should never box yourself into a treatment, just because of stupid old rules.
And it’s supervised use. You aren’t just tossing them a bag of smack and telling them to be on their way.
According to [professor of public health Eugenia] Oviedo-Joekes, “methadone doesn’t work all the time for everybody. Methadone works very well as a first-line treatment.” Addiction, “like any other illness,” may require second-line or even third-line treatments.
Prescribing heroin to severe addicts who don’t respond to other treatments may not cure them of their habit, according to Oviedo-Joekes and her colleagues, but it can lessen their exposure to life-threatening health risks, such as drug overdoses, blood-borne viral infections and endocarditis, an inflammation of the chambers of the heart. Studies indicate that prescription heroin reduces illicit drug use and so decreases criminal activity and health care costs, so the greater societal toll is lessened.
This is a smart, rational approach to a problem many North Americans struggle with, so I expect it’s only a matter of days before the U.S. takes this same tact (and by that I mean builds a wall to keep free Canadian heroin out of the country).