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Heroin scheme to be evaluated

Published on 08/12/2003

8 December 2003

AMSTERDAM — Despite great enthusiasm from the councils of six large cities, the Cabinet has opted to delay making a decision about expanding its current experiment in supplying chronic heroin addicts with their drug of choice.

The Netherlands has conducted an experiment in recent years in supplying heroin via prescription to several hundred chronic long-term addicts. The trial is being conducted in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Heerlen and Groningen — and statistics indicate that the level of criminality has significantly reduced.

Drug addicts need a fix of heroin every day to prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms and commit regular thefts to obtain cash. The municipal authorities involved in the trial supply of the drug have applauded the initiative for reducing the crime rate and improving public safety.

Despite the positive results, the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 cabinet resolved on Friday to delay a proposed expansion of the project, Radio Netherlands reported.

Several smaller cities are keen to also become involved in the project, but they have been forced to wait until en evaluation has been conducted of the present project. The evaluation could take several months.

The conservative CDA has raised the largest amount of objections in the Lower House of Parliament about the supply of heroin to chronic addicts. The CDA claims addicts should continue trying to give up heroin and supplying them with the drug would only indicate the government has recognised that many of them are hopeless cases.

The Trimbos Institute — which is involved in mental health and addiction — has said the physical and mental health of long-term addicts improved with the supply of heroin and — in combination with methadone programmes — the trial has led to a reduction in supplementary drug use.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Dutch news