Britain's First Drug 'Shooting Galleries' Are Hailed a Success
Jeremy Laurance Health Editor, The Independent (London, England)
A trial scheme which set up "shooting galleries" in three cities, enabling heroin users to obtain drugs and inject them under supervision, has dramatically cut crime rates and stopped addicts buying their supplies on the streets.
Yesterday's preliminary results from the 2.5m pilot project sent a ripple of excitement through the treatment community, because long- term heroin users are among the hardest addicts to treat. According to official figures, 10 per cent of drug addicts commit 75 per cent of the acquisitive crimes in the Britain. But the number of offences committed by the heroin addicts taking part in the shooting gallery scheme fell from an average of 40 each per month before they were admitted to "about half a dozen a month" after six months of intensive therapy, according to Professor John Strang, the head of the National Addiction Centre at the Maudsley Hospital, who is leading the study.
Instead of buying street heroin every day, the 150 volunteers are now buying it only four or five times a month on average - while a third of them have completely stopped "scoring" the drug on the streets.
Professor Strang said: "This is genuinely exciting news. These are people with a juggernaut-sized heroin problem and I really didn't know whether we could turn it around. We have succeeded with people who looked as if their problem was unturnable, and we have done it in six months."
The scheme is modelled on one in Switzerland, where the introduction of injecting clinics "medicalised" heroin use and transformed it from an …
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Publication information: Article title: Britain's First Drug 'Shooting Galleries' Are Hailed a Success. Contributors: Jeremy Laurance Health Editor - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 2, 2007. Page number: 6. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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