Taking the cure

Taking the cure

By M. L. Simon

Taking the cure

Heroin is a hard problem. Addiction to heroin is very hard on the user if the only source of supply is the black market. Heroin is much less of a problem if the user can get a cheap pure source of supply and clean needles for those who are drug injectors.

But what about those who want to get clean? What about those who are tired of heroin? Here, the news is bleak. If given treatment, the success rate is about 5 percent a year. Given no treatment, the success rate is about the same. What some people say in the face of these facts is that the best we can do for these unfortunates is to reduce the harm of their habits and just wait for the 5 percent a year to get the drug free life they want. Altogether, a rather dismal prognosis.

Perhaps it is time to look into the past for a cure. What was used before the criminalization of heroin to wean the user off heroin? None other than the miracle drug marijuana. In those days, it was thought that the marijuana high substituted for the heroin high. This relieved the cravings for heroin, and since marijuana was much safer to use than heroin, the users were much better off.

But in our puritan zeal to prevent non-pharmaceutical company-supplied chemical happiness, the idea of substituting a less dangerous pleasure for a more dangerous one went out the window. This was made official in 1937 when marijuana was banned by taxing it out of existence.

There is some new research out that shows that, in fact, the way that marijuana works may not be just as a substitute. This research was done on cocaine.

Let me describe the research. U.S. and Dutch scientists addicted some rats to cocaine and then deprived them of the drug for two weeks. They were then exposed to environmental cures associated with taking the cocaine. These cues often cause relapse in human addicts.

Rats injected with cannabinoid receptor blockers were much less likely to go back to drug injecting. Fifty to 60 percent less likely. The studies were done in the U.S. by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse and in Holland at Vrije University. Unpublished studies done by the same groups show similar results for heroin.

If the results hold for heroin, that means reducing the relapse rate from 95 percent to about 50 percent. An astounding result. Taco deVries of Vrije University says, relative to relapse:

“Right now, there is not much available. You can give anti-depressants to help with the symptoms of withdrawal, but they don’t seem to work very well.”

Mr. de Vries also says that marijuana might help with alcohol addiction as well.

So we have another case where relative to everything else available, marijuana is a wonder drug. Perhaps the free availability of this wonder drug in Holland for more than 20 years is the reason the average age of their heroin addicts is 35 and rising while in America, where marijuana is illegal, the average age of heroin addicts is 20 years and falling.

To read more and get references for further study, go to: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n1739/a08.html

Saying of the week: The triumph of capitalism is living proof that you can’t beat the laws of supply and demand. Drug prohibition is proof that some people will try anyway.

Don’t forget to ask a politician(send a postcard—letters are being opened and delayed due to the anthrax scare): Do you support drug prohibition because it finances criminals at home or because it finances terrorists abroad?

Rep. David Winters – House District 69

3444 N. Main Street, Suite 80

Rockford, IL 61103

M. Simon is an industrial controls designer and independent political activist.

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