- Published: June 5, 2015
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s Switzerland had one of the highest rates of heroin addiction in Europe. Open drug scenes in cities such as Zurich, Basel and Bern were common, with addicts injecting and dealers selling publicly in the streets and parks. Users often shared needles, leading to a sharp rise in HIV infection rates, and in the spread of Hepatitis.Ten years later, 68% of voters approved a move to make the program permanent. This program treats 1,300 addicts, and most of them are in their 40s. Heroin abuse is not increasing in younger generations, presumably because this program has turned the tables against the drug. Once viewed as a hip social drug, heroin now drags along a negative connotation. This radical health policy is an extremely intelligent and progressive move on behalf of the Swiss voters. The program works, and it is evidence that understanding the neural correlates of behavior can help legislators makes socially beneficial laws. How? Well, heroin addiction is a disease not unlike, for example, diabetes. This addiction changes the brain and behavior of the user, and may make it impossible to recover. This program recognizes that, and instead of continuously punishing addicts for making a choice than cannot be undone, it offers treatment that enables them to become functional members of society.