Switzerland voters will decide this week whether or not to continue dispensing prescription heroin to addicts deemed “beyond recovery”. The first of its kind, the harm minimization program was developed over a decade ago and has since been tried by the Germans, Dutch, and Canadians. The program was started for those that repeatedly showed no progress in treatment, including methadone maintenance.
Instead of trying to condone or condemn this type of end-of-the-road treatment, I would like instead to pass on a topic that deserves pondering. Is there such a thing as being beyond recovery? Is harm minimization just giving up? Don’t answer too quickly. Remember there are people who fight addictions all their life, only to draw out their own misery while jeopardizing the safety, property, and lives of those around them. Consider also that group of people who administer these types of programs, the ones who have decided they will not give up on those that have been written off by all, including themselves.
Knowing that most in this program will fail, overdose, and harm others- can they in good conscious end it?