For the last 16 months, with fentanyl ravaging street-drug users across the country, more than 100 users at Vancouver’s Crosstown Clinic in BC Canada have been quietly injecting prescription heroin. During that time, not one of the clinic’s patients has received heroin laced with fentanyl. Not one has overdosed. And not one has died of heroin addiction.

This is, after all, what happens when you remove heroin from the street, with all its plagues and pestilence, and bring it into a medical environment. This is what happens when patients inject pharmaceutical-grade heroin under a physician’s supervision, while receiving full medical, psychological and social support. And this is what happens when you treat heroin addiction as a medical matter instead of a criminal one.

It’s happened before. Trials in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K. all found heroin-assisted therapy more effective than methadone for those who previously responded unsuccessfully to conventional forms of maintenance treatment. And all of those countries have now officially adopted prescription heroin programs.

Canada, too, has produced solid evidence in support of heroin-assisted therapy. The North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), the continent’s first clinical trial involving prescription heroin, found that long-term, treatment-resistant addicts treated with heroin enjoy improved physical and mental health. It further discovered that they are more likely to remain in therapy and less likely to take illegal drugs and commit crimes than those treated with methadone.

Read the full article by Peter McKnight for the Globe and Mail.