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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Swiss to Surrender to Heroin Addiction



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The country that has declared a constitutional right to assisted suicide for the mentally ill, and put the dignity of individual plants into its constitution, is now about to formally ratify prescribing and giving addicts their heroin. From the story:

Dr. Daniele Zullino keeps glass bottles full of white powder in a safe in a locked room of his office. Patients show up each day to receive their treatment in small doses handed through a small window. Then they gather around a table to shoot up, part of a pioneering Swiss program to curb drug abuse by providing addicts a clean, safe place to take heroin produced by a government-approved laboratory.

The program has been criticized by the United States and the U.N. narcotics board, which said it would fuel drug abuse...
Swiss voters are expected to make the system permanent Sunday in a referendum prompted by a challenge from conservatives...

Patients among the nearly 1,300 addicts whom other therapies have failed to help take doses carefully measured to satisfy their cravings but not enough to cause a big high. Four at a time inject themselves as a nurse watches. In a few minutes most get up and leave. Those who have jobs go back to work. "Heroin prescription is not an end in itself," said Zullino, adding that the 47 addicts who come to his office receive a series of additional treatments, such as therapy with a psychiatrist and counseling by social workers. "The aim is that the patients learn how to function in society," he said, adding that after two to three years in the program, one-third of the patients start abstinence-programs and one-third change to methadone treatment. "Thanks to this policy we don't have open drug scenes anymore," said Andreas Kaesermann, a spokesman for the Social Democratic Party, part of the coalition government.

Typical, only one side is presented in the story and so we aren't told why "conservatives" forced this matter to a vote. I am noticing that tactic increasingly in the media across the depth and breadth of issues we deal with here at SHS.

But even so: Think about the language used--the poison heroin given to addicts so they can shoot up described as "treatment." No, it is the opposite of treatment. It is to enable the addiction, apparently primarily as an aesthetic matter so people don't have to see the desperate addicts in their midst shooting up.

And who is to say that these addicts don't just go out and score more drug to get that extra high? But why ask such questions when none of that matters. This is the state to which we are brought by terminal nonjudmemtalism. In our desire not to moralize, in our desire to be tolerant, we stop solving problems and surrender to them instead and call it progress.

Still, the Swiss do seem unduly cruel: Addicted people have to shoot themselves up. If we are going this route, why not just have the nurses do it so their arms will be less bruised?


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