How Switzerland defeated its heroin epidemic

Witness History

By BBC World Service

How Switzerland defeated its heroin epidemic

Friday, 4 June

In the 1990s, Switzerland decided to tackle one of Europe's worst drugs epidemics by trying radical new policy ideas including providing safe-injection rooms for addicts and even prescribing pure heroin. The new strategy dramatically cut overdoses, HIV infections and the number of new users, and in 2008 the Swiss voted in a referendum to enshrine the changes permanently in law. Zak Brophy talks to Andre Seidenberg, a Swiss doctor who worked with addicts for decades, and to former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss, who campaigned for the change in policy. PHOTO: Drug addicts in a disused railway station in Zurich in the 1990s (Getty Images)
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