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Frank Hovis

Wow - The Effect Of Giving Out Free Heroin In Holland

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only-in-holland-do-addicts-complain-abou

Full story at the link but that picture is all you really need to know.

In 1985 over 95% of heroin addicts were under 40, now it's less than 10%. This works.

“Now addicts can live more peacefully and start thinking about other things than just getting high. What remains after everything else has been taken care of, is their addiction,” he said. “If you get the dope for free, your only problem is that you’re addicted to the dope. It seems like a paradox, but it's true. All that's left when everything else is taken care of is the question: do I really want to keep on using this?”

https://news.vice.com/article/only-in-the-netherlands-do-addicts-complain-about-free-government-heroin

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It probably stops a lot of burgling!

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It probably kills off a lot of addicts.

Who might have died anyway of bad cuts of the drug (like in Glasgow) or in prison while they were obtaining it illegally. This seems much more humane. The Dutch have the courage of their convictions. Hats off to them.

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It probably kills off a lot of addicts.

Disagree. Admittedly without any empirical evidence, but that's for you to provide. Without it I will use common sense and life experience. What is it about the actual heroin that is 'lethal' would be a good place to start.

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I'd say (seriously now) that the heroin using population is aging because there are fewer new, younger, users. I'd say volumes are probably declining.

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Yes. In the absence of other evidence I'd guess this is the best way to tell a nice story....look harm reduction means they're living longer :)

My first guess would be volume goes up.

Anybody know different?

P

The linked article claims that heroin use under 40 is virtually non-existant and that "In 1992, more than one million needles were exchanged for clean ones in Amsterdam alone, according to the city's Department of Health. In 2013, it was less than 200,000."

TBH I'd like to see some supporting evidence for their claims but assuming that they are correct what I think is happening is that the black market sale of heroin is no longer economically viable.

Simply put, the dealers make their money out of long term heavy users, if they can get their fix off the government all the dealer is left with is selling small amounts to risky unknown customers, what's the point in running that level of risk in return for small change?

The black market supply of heroin dries up along with the supply of new users.

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Long term heroin use has one negative side effect - constipation. Otherwise if you have access to a clean supply you can use it forever and it won't shorten your life, unless you bleed out from a ruptured haemorrhoid, I suppose ;) . But as the graph shows, it's clearly not actually an attractive lifestyle. Diabetics I know don't enjoy having to inject themselves twice a day, and I guess once you've a tolerance to heroin and you don't get a superb rush from it, being dependant is a similar pain in the backside (albeit self inflicted, before any diabetics get outraged at me- my uncle who I love dearly has had type 1 for 60 years).

It's a similar story with Amphetamines. Methamphetamine is bad for you, but your standard Lev- and Dex- have minimal side effects and actually increase brain function.

As a lazy unmotivated git who could do with a bit of a boost most days, it really gets on my tits that the only legal stimulant I have easy access to is caffeine. I'm convinced that I have mild ADD, but the NHS refused to diagnose me with it as I told the psycholgist I saw that I'd looked it up in the DSM- apparently that made me too organised to have an Attention Deficit :rolleyes: .

So I continue to waste my life away abusing entirely legal alcohol. And the government continues to piss away my taxes locking up people who don't need to be in prison.

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I have always maintained that in a truly free society people should be able to do what they want.

The drug 'scene 'only came about because of repression by the state that made it profitable for drug vendors to exist.

Allegedly, after the first Word War, large numbers of wounded soldiers spent years on Heroin with no bad effects.

We should punish the crimes not the addicts. If intoxication becomes a social nuisance, arrest the perpetrators of the nuisance. Otherwise, leave well alone.

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I'd be curious to know. Surely that would be a pretty irrefutable argument for Harm Reduction.

A great story - so why not tell it?

P

Assuming the figures are correct - use by under 40's has fallen from ~96% to ~10% so unless middle aged people have been taking up heroin on an industrial scale, I think its pretty obvious that usage levels have declined. Increased health and therefore longevity of older users probably adds to the overall picture though.

I'd agree the argument is irrefutable. But harm reduction is not the point of The War on Drugs, the purpose is that politicians can appear to be "tough on crime".... The fact that this costs a small fortune, generates most aquisitive crime, and causes untold human misery is irrelevant.

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I'm open, but do you not think there are some weasly definitions and measurements in programs like this?

And as for the age bias:

Does anyone else smell sampling error?

P

There's something clearly odd or they wouldn't have normalised the data in such a way. Like you I'm open minded on this, even hopeful that it's true. But the actual numbers and methodology need to be made clear.

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As a lazy unmotivated git who could do with a bit of a boost most days, it really gets on my tits that the only legal stimulant I have easy access to is caffeine.

NASA did some experiments with spiders and various drugs, the hypothesis being, if I recall correctly, that web disorder might be a possible measure of neurotoxicity. Don't think this really worked out as they'd hoped but the results are still interesting. Check out caffeine:

1243988608214-600x998.jpg

http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2013/07/06/weekend-diversion-spider-webs-on-drugs/

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I was dubious about these claims a few minutes ago but have found a couple of reliable looking sources that seem to back them up.

The point to note is that the graph shows users in methadone treatment programmes but this does seem to be an adequate proxy for the problem as a whole.

Links:

http://www.q4q.nl/methwork/Newsletter12/tailor.htm

The average age of Amsterdam drug users has consistently increased to about 37 in 1996, whilst at the same time the percentage of young drug users has declined. This means that Amsterdam has a rather stable chronic group of addicts, with hardly any ‘newcomers’.

The study dates back to 1997 but is consistent with the data in the chart. A more recent study

http://dare.uva.nl/document/207369

The general picture was one of a relatively stable population of problematic heroin users with a low incidence of new cases and a low mortality rate. This was also reflected in the fact that the mean age of the methadone maintenance population in Amsterdam had been increasing by approximately 10 months each year since 1984 (the mean age in 1984 was 28.2; the mean age in 1997 was 38.8; the mean age in 2007 was 47.4) and in the fact that the percentage of heroin dependent patients in methadone maintenance that were younger than 26 years dropped from 28% in 1985 through 3% in 1997 and 1%in 2007 (Buster and Reurs, 1998; GGD Amsterdam, 2007). This was a trend in the whole country with only 2% of the methadone maintenance patients younger than 26 in 2002
So yes, wow indeed, although it is less clear if the success is due to the heroin prescription programme or other factors.

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How is the study impacted by the tourist drug trade? Many of those who are/were into drugs are/were not the natives but foreigners visiting or living in the place due to their liberal attitudes.

If other places today have increased access or just as liberal attitudes, that would reduce the number travelling to find refuge in Holland.

Marginal I would guess.

Firstly the study concerns those in methadone treatment programmes so that rules out short term visitors and I doubt many have moved there as residents to take advantage of their methadone programmes.

Secondly I'm not sure if the Netherlands have ever been particularly liberal over harder drugs or for that matter the property crimes associated with it (probably the bigger risk for users).

Edit: although I have seen a source that suggests approximately 30% of users are foreign nationals.

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I shall be there in two weeks and report back !

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There's also a theory that the 'war on drugs' dates back to the early 1930s in the USA - when Prohibition was overturned in the USA, one of the major reasons for the FBI's existence was taken away, so they needed to find a reason to keep going.

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NASA did some experiments with spiders and various drugs, the hypothesis being, if I recall correctly, that web disorder might be a possible measure of neurotoxicity. Don't think this really worked out as they'd hoped but the results are still interesting. Check out caffeine:

1243988608214-600x998.jpg

http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2013/07/06/weekend-diversion-spider-webs-on-drugs/

I'm surprised that spiders high on weed could be ars*ed to make a web to be honest..

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The linked article claims that heroin use under 40 is virtually non-existant and that "In 1992, more than one million needles were exchanged for clean ones in Amsterdam alone, according to the city's Department of Health. In 2013, it was less than 200,000."

TBH I'd like to see some supporting evidence for their claims but assuming that they are correct what I think is happening is that the black market sale of heroin is no longer economically viable.

Simply put, the dealers make their money out of long term heavy users, if they can get their fix off the government all the dealer is left with is selling small amounts to risky unknown customers, what's the point in running that level of risk in return for small change?

The black market supply of heroin dries up along with the supply of new users.

Indeed, it's an entire industry if you include the ongoing crime to get money, selling/fencing of the goods, the heroin supply chain, etc.. Indeed, without a stable group of addicts to carry out the crimes, there would be fewer people to fence the proceeds of crime and therefore it would be harder to make money out of burgling. Just as if there were no scrap metal yards, there would be no metal theft.

Indeed, forget harm reduction - legalisation and prescribing/selling drugs would be a body blow to the world's criminal networks.

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Quite high. And it may well have been higher in the past. That was my point really.

Possibly, although that doesn't explain why the 70% who were not foreign stopped using it almost overnight, nor does it tell us if the foreign resident drug using population has changed as a proportion of the overall population. I suspect the answer is that the foreigners went there for the pot then got caught up in the heroin epidemic, already addicted foreigners would've stayed in their home country. I'm doubtful whether changes in the numbers of foreign pot smokers closely correlates with the reduction in the use of heroin.

The vast majority were German if you want to follow that hypothesis further.

The true answer I think is contained in the following link (also the source for the 30% figure): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2359435/?page=5

As a result of the distinction between hard and soft drugs, introduced by law in 1976, the social and cultural environments in which these types of drugs are used also have become, as it were, "uncoupled." In the Dutch perspective, cannabis is a pseudolegal drug, with which some 30% of Amsterdam's teenagers have experimented. The use of cannabis among young people is limited in duration and frequency and in this manner plays no role in social marginalization. Instead, it manifests itself in brief, healthy experimentation.

Heroin is a street drug and, as such, is heavily stigmatized for young people. The facts underlying this attitude come out in the addiction biographies of new users. In 1993, 150 heroin users of both white Dutch and ethnic minority backgrounds-whom at that time were not known to the GG&GD-were interviewed in the Amsterdam police cells. Their average age was 28; all were heavily into crime and had experienced a failed education, both at elementary school and during "lower" (i.e., technical) secondary education. They were functionally illiterate despite 9 years of schooling. For most young people such as these, cannabis use is established by the age of 15, at which age they also drop out of school as a result of the aforementioned illiteracy. Consequently, they become street criminals, get involved in the hard-drug scene through their commercial activities, start experimenting with heroin and cocaine around the age of 21, and within a year find they are hooked

Luckily, the number of people within the Dutch welfare state who fall to the bottom of the education system in this way is very limited. They tend to comprise two broad groups: white Dutch people raised in classic antisocial environments (single parent, child abuse, alcoholism), and immigrants-particularly Moroccans who have language problems and become alienated from the broader society.

So what I think happened here is that the drug became fashionable in the mid to late 70s, a significant factor being the influx of immigrants from Surinam following independence in 1974, which then encouraged use in other groups. After about 10 years the effects of addiction became widely known, the drug became heavily stigmatised and only the most desparate became new users.

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And if you want to know why we still have a heroin problem and the Dutch don't then check out the graphs on pages 6 & 7 of the following: http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/SF2.3%20Mean%20age%20of%20mother%20at%20first%20childbirth%20-%20updated%20240212.pdf

The charts show the mean age of a mother at the birth of her first child.

In the Netherlands it shows a very symetrical bell curve with an average of around 30 with very low levels of younger motherhood..

In the UK the curve is heavily distorted at the lower end of the age spectrum, with rates for at age 17 equivilent to 20 in Holland and 20 equivilent to 24, i.e. far more mothers having their first child at a young age.

What I think this shows is that we have far more social problems in the UK with young mothers bringing up children on their own in anti-social households whilst the fathers drift off into addiction or other problems.

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