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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Drug proposals - an addict's view
Heroin is injected in a
Safe injecting rooms: "A stupid idea"
A recovering heroin addict has given a mixed response to MPs' proposals to prescribe heroin on the NHS.

Bob from Essex [not his real name] told BBC News Online heroin prescriptions would be some help - but the government should do a lot more.

He said the biggest impact of the scheme would be on drug-related crime, as users would no longer have to find the money to buy heroin.


It doesn't make it easy to come off - that's got to come from inside yourself

"Dealers would lose out, and less people would be going out to steal," he said.

"But it doesn't make it easy to come off - that's got to come from inside yourself."

Bob said prescription heroin could also ensure addicts were not poisoned by injecting impure or "cut" drugs.

"It's peace of mind. You wouldn't be worrying about dying after injecting brick dust and what-not."

Tolerance

He said it could also dramatically reduce an addict's chance of overdosing.

Although tolerance to heroin builds very quickly, it also drops very fast, so addicts can easily misjudge how much they need, and accidentally kill themselves.


You've got to get the message out to kids more than anything, in schools

Bob said the help of a GP in calculating how much was required would ease that problem.

"It's very, very easy to overdose. If you haven't had any for say, three days, and you think you'll just take your normal amount... well, you've already done part of a detox yourself.

"It's hard for people to understand that, especially the beginners."

But he said a proposal for "shooting galleries" - places where users can inject safely - was a "stupid idea" as it implied a fun place for a fix.

A better idea, he said, was for addicts to receive injections, or inject themselves, under supervision at their local GP.

Detox facilities

Bob said one of the biggest problems facing addicts trying to get clean - which was not addressed by these proposals - was the near-impossibility of getting into a decent NHS detox facility.


[GPs] look at you but they don't look at you, it's like - he's another junkie

"Some of them let you go in and feed you up with other drugs so you are addicted to even more things by the time you have finished.

"Others make you wait so long your habit is even bigger by the time you get there."

Bob also felt very strongly that GPs should be educated to better understand heroin addicts - rather than wanting to give them a prescription and hustle them out of the surgery as soon as possible.

Education

"They look at you but they don't look at you, it's like - he's another junkie.

"Even though people are on heroin they're still human," he said.

Bob thought the most important thing of all was education to prevent youths trying heroin in the first place.

Many youths, he said, still do not really grasp exactly how dangerous heroin is.

"You've got to get the message out to kids more than anything, in schools. There should be more out there to tell people."


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22 May 02 | UK Politics

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