Theater of Cruelty

An overdose of cowardice

Norwegian drug policy refuses doctors to save lives. The Norwegian program for drug-assisted treatment is too strict and too small.


[13. April 2007] It is both easy and popular to claim that Norwegian drug policy has failed. The statistics of overdose deaths are brutal, addicts are relapsed when living side by side with drug addicts at hospices, and preventative work does not prevent a steady influx of new recruits into the drug environment, especially every summer. But this is not where the worst problems lie. The biggest problem in Norwegian drug policy is the fear of trying something new.

In this issue of Ny Tid you will meet, among others, Kai-Ove Lipski from Sandefjord. He was a heroin addict when he met doctor Martin Haraldsen, who decided to help him out of the drug hell. Haraldsen started drug-assisted treatment of Lipski, and he gave the drug Temgesic, with the same active ingredients as the more well-known Subutex, to get rid of Lipski with the heroin. The treatment worked, and Lipski managed to free himself from the daily injection. But Dr. Haraldsen was not allowed to help him. Drug-assisted rehabilitation is reserved for the public program of the same name, to be abbreviated daily Lar. Such treatment follows strict rules. Such strict rules that the ex-addicts should preferably take methadone, not Subutex. It did not help Lipski, who became physically ill from the methadone and ended the program. For half a year he bought Subutex on the illegal market, but today he is without an offer and without a job. Therefore, he has again begun the journeys to the capital to buy heroin.

Lipski's fate is a sad single story, but he is not alone. The Norwegian program for drug-assisted treatment is too strict and too small. The methadone offered is of the cheapest variety and produces more side effects than other methadone. The actual escalation period in which health workers are offered the equivalent of a fraction of the escalation period in the otherwise criticized American system for the same. And to be considered a recipient of methadone, you must have been abusive for so many years that very many who could have benefited from the treatment are shut out.

Of course, it is good to focus on methadone therapy for those who want to get away from heroin. Of course, this treatment should be offered to more people who could benefit from it, and at the same time look at other options for those who are not successful in methadone. We are not convinced by those parties who believe the natural next step is to legalize heroin. But we expect them to take up the fight to improve the offer.

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