Drug addicts should be given heroin on the NHS, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said, but a campaigner says users should be helped to stop instead.
The BMA backed the idea at its annual meeting, stating that users should be given the drugs in a “clean and safe manner”. Anti-drugs activist Mary Brett said the idea “defies belief” and would not be done for people battling with alcohol addiction.
Dr Iain Kennedy, from the BMA, said the proposal was for people who are already involved with a drug treatment programme. He said the so-called consumption rooms are not needed everywhere and claimed that the idea makes it easier for addicts to stop taking drugs. Dr Kennedy added: “It is medicinal heroin, so it is clean and users do not face the risk of taking a contaminated drug, like they would if they bought it on the street. The rooms would also provide clean injecting equipment.” The BMA will now lobby the Government to introduce the change.
Mary Brett, Chairman of the Cannabis Skunk Sense charity, said the BMA is “enabling people to take heroin”. She added: “Instead of getting them off the drug, they’re just enabling them to take more and more. “Would you do the same for an alcoholic? It defies belief.” In 2014, the Scottish Government rejected calls to introduce officially-sanctioned rooms where drug addicts can inject themselves. It cited “ethical and legal issues” as a reason for blocking the idea.