Could This Change End The Heroin Epidemic?

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Could supervised drug injection rooms help end the heroin epidemic? That's the approach a top drug prevention official in Ireland wants to try out next year.

The goal of the proposal, which Aodhán Ó Ríordáin outlined to the media at a policy seminar in London this week, is to curb the use of drugs on the streets and in other public spaces. The move could help reduce other crimes associated with drug use and could lower risks, both for users and the public, Ó Ríordáin argued.

"It will effectively mean a diplomatic immunity to inject heroin in a safe, secure, passionate environment," Ó Ríordáin, the country's minister for drug strategy, told Agence France Presse. "It will limit the dangers of contracting HIV and Hepatitis C and also takes away the street injecting phenomenon." Ó Ríordáin said he hopes to see legislation that will allow the first rooms to open in Dublin as early 2016.

The plan is part of what Ó Ríordáin called a “radical cultural shift" in dealing with drug abuse. He is also pushing for the decriminalization of small amounts of drugs — including heroin and cocaine — for personal use, according to The Irish Times.

“I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction,” Ó Ríordáin told the paper.
Several other countries across Europe — including the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and Portugal — have taken similar steps to help intravenous drug users and decriminalize possession of substances, according to AFP.
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