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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 05:39 GMT 06:39 UK
Heroin prescription scheme call
Some experts think prescribing heroin may help users
Allowing GPs in Scotland to prescribe heroin could help cut drug-related crime and nuisance, according to drugs advisers.

The Scottish Drugs Forum has said users could be helped by prescribed heroin and it believes a pilot should be set up to study the benefits of the idea.

The Home Office is soon to announce prescribing pilot schemes in England.

The Scottish Executive said it would monitor these pilots, but had no plans to promote a similar initiative here.

Most Scottish heroin users who receive treatment from health board addiction services are prescribed methadone.

Chaotic lives

It is a substitute drug which helps users stabilise their lives by removing the need for them to commit crimes to raise money for drugs.

But an estimated 1,000 injecting drug users - about 4% of the Scottish total - never contact treatment services and live chaotic lives.

It is these users who Scottish Drugs Forum said could be helped by prescribed heroin.

The group said it would be in addition to existing methadone programmes and has been successful in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Forum director David Liddell acknowledged there would be widespread opposition to the idea, but said a pilot could establish the benefits of heroin prescribing.

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