A debate is raging in England – and around the world – as the head of Britain’s biggest nursing union suggested that heroin be prescribed to users to cut crime and keep public spaces free of dirty needles.
Dr. Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), proposed that Britain’s National Health Service should offer heroin to drug addicts and open “consumption rooms” where users can go to inject under medical supervision, according The Guardian newspaper.
The comments were made following a debate on the issue at the RCN’s annual conference in Bournemouth. Speaking for himself personally and not in his official capacity, Carter said, “I do believe in heroin prescribing. The fact is, heroin is very addictive. People who are addicted so often resort to crime, to steal to buy the heroin.”
While aware that his stance might be seen by many as controversial, Carter went on to say that, “It might take a few years, but I think people will understand. If you are going to get people off heroin then in the initial stages we have to have proper heroin prescribing services.”
There are studies that seem to back up Carter’s viewpoint. The Guardian cites a study undertaken at the King’s College’s National Addiction Centre that suggested allowing users to inject heroin under medical supervision could cut local crime rates by two-thirds in six months.
Not surprisingly, many other experts in the field of addiction felt that money should be spent on treating addiction rather than keeping current users on drugs. With that, it seems the debate is sure to rage on for the foreseeable future.
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