Zurich Policy Makes Heroin ‘Loser Drug,’ May Stop Use

This article and this article and discuss an article in The Lancet reporting very striking reductions in the estimates of new heroin users in Switzerland. These reductions are attributed to Switzerland’s medicalization policy of drug replacement, usually methadone or buprenorphine but occasionally heroin. The first article provides a little more history than any others I’ve seen. It notes that Zurich was coming off of explosive growth in new users when the study started. This program could be considered a form of treatment on demand and would have been more impressive if they had aggressively promoted drug-free treatment as well and moved more people into recovery (I’m not sure that that didn’t promote drug-free treatment, but they clearly weren’t successful at moving people into recovery). It will be interesting to watch the response to this study and see what the use patterns are like for other commonly misused drugs since drug use patterns often shift dramatically over decades.