Heroin Assisted Treatment involves supervising prescribed pharmaceutical heroin self-administration with intensive psycho-social help to a minority of people with severe heroin dependence who have not benefitted from multiple other treatments.
The signatories of this letter include senior clinicians and researchers, major health organisations, peer based organisations and people with long standing experience and expertise in the fields of law enforcement, drug policy and drug treatment.
We support the urgent introduction of Heroin Assisted Treatment in Australia.
Twenty years ago this month in August 1997, the then Federal Cabinet decided against notifying the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs of an intention to conduct an Australian trial of Heroin Assisted Treatment. Consequently, the proposed trial had to be abandoned.
Since then, trials of supervised heroin assisted treatment in seven countries with a combined total of more than 1,500 people using street heroin have found that this treatment was more effective than high quality methadone treatment for people with severe heroin dependence who had not benefitted from multiple other treatments.
Heroin Assisted Treatment, as well as more recently treatment with other injectable opioids, has been demonstrated to improve physical and mental health, reduce the use of street heroin, reduce criminal activity and improve social functioning. This treatment also saves a lot more money than it costs to provide or the current cost to the community of not treating people with severe heroin dependence.
Heroin Assisted Treatment is only needed for a small minority of the heroin using population. However, research in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Canada, Belgium and the UK has shown its benefit for individuals, families and communities is often quite profound.
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