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Switzerland considers distributing cocaine to addicts

The proposed measure is aimed at alleviating the country’s growing crack epidemic

Switzerland is considering introducing an experimental program to distribute prescription cocaine among drug users, which might help them beat their crack addiction.

While the measure has been advocated by humanitarians and experts for some time, now Switzerland’s Federal Commission for Addiction and Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases (EKSN) is considering it as well.

“People who consume crack several times a day get caught in a vicious circle of procurement and consumption,” EKSN Vice President Christian Schneider told the public broadcaster SRF on Tuesday.

“We are at least suggesting how cocaine could be given to severely addicted crack users so that they can break the vicious circle and recover.”

The commission is now considering setting up special teams to visit crack addicts and provide them with medical and psychotherapeutic aid. The controlled distribution of cocaine is also an option, the official suggested, citing the state’s efforts to beat a past heroin epidemic which involved dispensing the drug, or its substitute methadone, to addicts. However, there are no plans to begin “simply handing out cocaine in large quantities,” Schneider warns.

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Some medical experts, however, are highly critical of the idea, arguing that no solid scientific research exists which would justify such a program. Moreover, it is unclear whether the authorities would be able to determine the demand for crack among addicts, addiction specialist Marc Vogel from University Psychiatric Clinics in Basel told the broadcaster.

“The main question is whether we can achieve saturation so that people are satisfied. Whether this will work with cocaine distribution is at least very questionable,” he said.

Switzerland began experiencing troubles with growing crack cocaine abuse in around 2020, with reportedly high-quality and arguably cheap merchandise flooding the streets. Geneva was hit by the crack wave first, with the problem subsequently spreading to several other major cities, including Basel, Zurich and Lausanne.

Small-time street dealers of African origin arriving in the country from France in numbers have reportedly greatly contributed to the ongoing crack epidemic. The booming drug market has also attracted addicts from other countries as well, with only a third of crack users in Geneva believed to be locals.

“One third are from Geneva, one third are from France and one third are migrants,” Camille Robert, co-director of a Geneva-based addiction study group, said in March.

June 20, 2024 at 12:45AM
RT

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