More on heroin as treatment for heroin addiction

Mark Kleiman makes an important point about the heroin maintenance study released last week and the flaws in the coverage of the study. (Previous post here.)

John Tierney cites NYT reporter Benedict Carey for the claim that ” treating hard-core heroin addicts with their drug of choice seems to work better than treating them with methadone.” But neither Carey nor the paper Carey reports on makes any such claim. The study wasn’t among “hard-core heroin addicts” generally, but among addicts who had already failed on methadone treatment.

I’ve devoted a lot of posts to this issue. In spite of what’s been suggested in comments, I’m not a one-wayist, but it’s hard to see this as anything other than an approach rooted in the idea that these people are beyond help and untreatable. Much of the analysis I’ve read focuses on social benefits rather than benefits to the individual. When they’ve tried treating these people with the same methods we’ve offered physicians and failed, then, maybe, there’s a case for experimenting with this kind of approach.

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4 thoughts on “More on heroin as treatment for heroin addiction

  1. I don't know what to think of this issue. It seems you can point to different studies to support any view. My son was a hard core heroin addict (the kind they want to treat with free heroin). He has been homeless, sick, jailed, rehabed, etc. Now he is in prison, but soon to be released. None of these consequences have been his bottom, although I can tell by looking at him (and I send very little money) that he is not using in prison. But once he is out of a controlled environment, all bets are off. I remain hopeful, but I will not let him come home, so he will be going to a half way house. I'm skeptical of his chances there without therapy, meetings, etc. After 8 years of using, I feel like methadone is an option for him (if he picks up again), although inside it feels like failure to me. I appreciate these articles, and I like reading different opinions on this.

  2. BTW – If he's interested in sober housing and/or treatment, have him give us a call.

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