Norwegian Health Minister Bent Høie of the Conservative Party is planning to launch a pilot program aimed at saving the lives of drug addicts by simply providing them with free heroin. The Christian Democrats were quick to attack the plan, equating it to giving up on efforts for rehabilitation.
“It’s sad if people addicted to drugs meet a system that only meets them with more drugs,” said Olaug Bollestad, deputy leader of the Christian Democrats party that generally supports the conservative government coalition. She told newspaper Aftenposten that the addicts rather need treatment and help to kick their drug habits.
Years of efforts at drug rehab programs have only mixed results, prompting the government to launch reforms. Health Minister Høie has now asked the state health directorate to propose which addicts should receive free heroin, how the heroin would be distributed and what it would cost.
“We want to help the drug addicts who otherwise are difficult to reach or treat,” Høie told Aftenposten. One former heroin addict now being treated with methadon, Frank André Aas, applauded the government’s plan.
“I know that you will save many of my friends’ lives if they can get free heroin, and avoid the hunt for money for heroin,” Aas told Høie during a meeting at a café in Oslo run by recovering addicts. He doesn’t think the offer of free heroin will create more addicts: “No one can be tempted by the lives of the old addicts.” The pilot project may be launched in 2020 or 2021.