Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Low-threshold methadone treatment, heroin price, police activity and incidence of heroin use: the Zurich experience


Nordt, C; Stohler, R (2009). Low-threshold methadone treatment, heroin price, police activity and incidence of heroin use: the Zurich experience. International Journal of Drug Policy, 20(6):497-501.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: There still are concerns about unwanted effects of harm-reduction measures that may lead to an increasing number of new heroin users. Furthermore, it is thought that the admission of a substantial proportion of heroin users to methadone treatments reduces the demand on the heroin market and thus results in a lower price for street heroin. And finally, the intensity of police activity in the drug field may also affect prices for street heroin. METHODS: As incidence of regular heroin use over more than a decade is rarely known elsewhere, we examined the Zurich experience between 1980 and 2005 by triangulating published and unpublished data, concerning heroin price, heroin purity level, heroin seizures and drug offences. This time period encompasses the time before and after the introduction of low-threshold methadone treatment in 1991. RESULTS: We found a steep peak of heroin incidence in 1990. The street price of heroin already declined from 700 to 60 Swiss Francs during the 80s. The number of heroin consumptions possession offences reported by the police increased since 1991 and peaked in 1997, 2 years after the closure of the last open drug scene. CONCLUSION: The introduction of low-threshold methadone treatment has not resulted in lower heroin prices and the increased police activity during the 90s has not led to higher heroin prices, even though the higher police activity in the late 90s may have contributed to the prevention of a re-establishment of open drug scenes. In conclusion, we did not find a close relationship between street prices of heroin, police activity, and incidence of problematic heroin use.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: There still are concerns about unwanted effects of harm-reduction measures that may lead to an increasing number of new heroin users. Furthermore, it is thought that the admission of a substantial proportion of heroin users to methadone treatments reduces the demand on the heroin market and thus results in a lower price for street heroin. And finally, the intensity of police activity in the drug field may also affect prices for street heroin. METHODS: As incidence of regular heroin use over more than a decade is rarely known elsewhere, we examined the Zurich experience between 1980 and 2005 by triangulating published and unpublished data, concerning heroin price, heroin purity level, heroin seizures and drug offences. This time period encompasses the time before and after the introduction of low-threshold methadone treatment in 1991. RESULTS: We found a steep peak of heroin incidence in 1990. The street price of heroin already declined from 700 to 60 Swiss Francs during the 80s. The number of heroin consumptions possession offences reported by the police increased since 1991 and peaked in 1997, 2 years after the closure of the last open drug scene. CONCLUSION: The introduction of low-threshold methadone treatment has not resulted in lower heroin prices and the increased police activity during the 90s has not led to higher heroin prices, even though the higher police activity in the late 90s may have contributed to the prevention of a re-establishment of open drug scenes. In conclusion, we did not find a close relationship between street prices of heroin, police activity, and incidence of problematic heroin use.

Statistics

Citations

6 citations in Web of Science®
8 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

2 downloads since deposited on 15 Feb 2010
0 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Clinical and Social Psychiatry Zurich West (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:15 Feb 2010 08:00
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:48
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0955-3959
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.02.009
PubMed ID:19349154

Download