Letter: Pragmatic lessons in the treatment of drug addiction

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The Independent Online
Sir: I have read with interest your special reports on the 'drug explosion' (2 and 3 March). At the Widnes Drug Dependency Clinic, where we have re-established the 'British System' of the 1920s for the treatment of chronic heroin addicts, we have prescribed heroin in injectable and smokable format for the past 10 years.

In this time, we have found that addicts can lead stable, purposeful lives while in receipt of a heroin prescription. Results show a 15- fold reduction in criminal activities among individual addicts, zero drug-related death rates, zero HIV positivity, a marked improvement in health and a spontaneous remission rate of 5 per cent per annum.

If the Widnes experience was adopted throughout the country, the drug problem we are currently experiencing would cease to exist.

Your sincerely,



Widnes Drug Dependency Unit

Halton General Hospital (NHS)

Widnes, Cheshire

4 March