Feed a cold, starve a fever and use heroin to treat drug addicts

Question:  What is the most efficient means of treating a patient suffering from an addiction to heroin?

Answer:  Medical professionals should administer regular doses of heroin to the patient.

Wait.  What?

A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal compared the costs and effectiveness of treatments using methadone, a synthetic opioid often used in treating addicts, with treatments involving diacetylmorphine, more commonly referred to as heroin.  The results demonstrate that long-time heroin addicts were more likely to remain in treatment when administered medically-supervised doses of heroin.  The authors also determined that the prescription of heroin instead of methadone resulted in a significant reduction of societal costs, such as those associated with the criminal justice system.

The study was based upon research conducted through the University of British Colombia, the University of Montreal and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.  The results were released on March 12, 2012.

The study primarily involved a mathematical analysis of data accumulated in NAOMI, an acronym for the North American Opiate Medication Initiative.  NAOMI is a three-year trial of the effectiveness of medically prescribed heron that was funded and approved by two government agencies, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and Health Canada.

An earlier study based upon data accumulated by NAOMI was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009.  At the time, the authors concluded that “diacetylmorphine (heroin) appears to be a safe and effective adjunctive treatment.” The most recent study draws upon this conclusion in determining that the use of diacetylmorphine is not only safe and effective, by may be the best treatment for a person addicted to heroin.  Dr. Aslam Anis, a professor at the University of British Columbia and lead researcher, explains that the use of heroin

would decrease societal costs, largely by reducing costs associated with crime, and would increase both the duration and quality of life of treatment recipients… Because opioid users commit less crime and have lower rates of health care use and death while in treatment, the benefits in cost and health utility attributable to diacetylmorphine (heroin) stemmed chiefly from its capacity to retain patients in treatment for longer periods than with methadone maintenance treatment.

The numbers seem to support the claim.  For example:

  • Nearly 90 percent of patients receiving heroin remained in treatment one year after the beginning of the study.  In comparison, slightly more than 50 percent of patients receiving methadone remained in treatment after the same period.
  • The rate of illegal activity perpetrated by addicts receiving heroin-based treatment decreased by a full 67 percent.  The rate of recidivism was under 50 percent for addicts receiving methadone-based treatment.
  • The researchers estimated that the average lifetime cost of treating an addict using methadone was $1.14 million, based on treatment expenditures, the costs of drug therapy and societal costs derived from criminal acts and law enforcement.  The estimated costs decreases to $1.09 million through the use of heroin.

In other news, scientists have determined that the most effective means of treating obesity is to promote the consumption of hamburgers and cupcakes.

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2 responses to “Feed a cold, starve a fever and use heroin to treat drug addicts

  1. Rochelle September 27, 2013 at 4:21 am

    After I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments arre
    added- chueckbox and from now on whenever a cokmment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment.
    Perhaps there is an easy method yyou are able to remove me from that service?
    Appreciate it!

  2. Adams Baker January 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I think, bring the person in a rehabilitation center. And then you can help the person by showing care and encouragement. Encourage him that he/she will get well soon with the help of the rehab center.

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