Prescription for Change –

November 9, 2018 – The 1,500 patients at Switzerland’s 22 peps centers have all tried unsuccessfully to kick their habit with drug-replacement therapy. Marco, 44, said: “Methadone didn’t work for me. The side effects were terrible, and I didn’t get any tranquilizing effect. So I was taking other drugs on top of it. I’ve been registered here for the last six months. I’ve put on weight, and cut my heroin use by 80 percent. Eventually, I want to get clean.” Chantal, 54, an addict for 30 years, said: “The treatment gives me structure. I don’t have to chase after my dealer any more.” Jeff, 54, had just injected his daily dose; his pupils were dilated, and he spoke in a loud voice: “My quality of life has definitely improved. It’s stabilized my day. Before I got into the program, I was a dealer. I was cunning, I found ways to get money, I did stuff.”

Yves Saget, an addiction nurse, said: “Addiction happens when taking drugs becomes the only strategy for dealing with difficult situations. We don’t say ‘fix’ here, we say ‘treatment.’” He explained: “The brain becomes dependent, and needs heroin to maintain its balance. At this center, we are treating 63 patients with diacetylmorphine. Medical heroin is pure, unlike the drug you buy in the street, which is cut with caffeine, paracetamol, and other substances. Street heroin isn’t satisfying, so addicts often take other narcotics with it, or alcohol, or psychotropic drugs such as benzodiazepine. Our dosage, which is individually tailored, allows patients to live as normal a life as possible.” He added: “We emphasize good citizenship—patients must treat our staff and the neighborhood with respect.

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