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Johann Hari @johannhari101
, 8 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
In 2001, Switzerland began legalizing heroin for ppl with addiction problems. The result? Since then, there have been 0 overdose deaths on the legal program (that's zero, none) and a huge fall in deaths outside the legal program.
Here's how it works. If u have an addiction, you are assigned to a clinic (I went to the one in Geneva), & you are given 2 things. The drug you're addicted to, & at same time, massive support to turn your life around (housing, work, psychological support)
There's no pressure to ever cut back or stop, & u set ur own dose. Yet most people do slowly cut back & come off. Why? Because their lives get better. As your life gets better, u don't want to be anesthetized so much.
Switzerland is a conservative country, but once they'd seen it in practice, 70% of ppl voted to keep this program in place in a referendum. (In part because crime fell so much.)
Clear lesson for US opiod crisis. Best solution is: prescribe the safest legal version of drug, & give massive support at the same time, until the person is no longer in such distress that they feel they need to drug themselves.
US is doing the opposite: throwing ppl off the drug (driving them to street heroin, much worse), and instead of helping them, giving them criminal records & stigma that prevent them from reconnecting.
For more details about how the program works you can read this excellent report for @OSF by the brilliant Joanne Csete…
In my book 'Chasing The Scream' I report in detail on this. You can listen to audio of my conversations the amazing President who launched the program, Ruth Dreifus (a true hero), and others affected by it. inc the pyschiatrists in charge of it, at
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