Radical drug policies to help heroin addicts are to be implemented by the local government in Bergen and the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Norway has been dealing with a high number of deaths from heroin addiction.
Much above the average death by drug addiction in Europe of 16 per milion inhabitants in 2013, Norway stands at 70 deaths, according to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drugs Addiction.
The new left-wing local government now wants to test medically injected heroin to curb the problem along with traditional measures like methadone.
An addict and member of the Association for a Humane Drug Policy, says, "We can't go on criminalizing our drug users. We need the trust between us and the health professionals."
While the government wants to halt the addiction completely, most supporters of the humane policy believe that the most that can be done for users is to bring them into a safer environment, which reduces the chances of death, and controls the violent behaviour that the addiction leads to.
In Bergen, there are centres for needle exchange, where the addict can attain clean needles, medical help and a hot meal.
Nygaards Park, in the centre of the town, was an unofficial point where an open trade of the drugs was carrying on until a police crackdown which drove the users close to a tourist spot in the center of the city. Officials believe that this is better as medical services are within reach from the city center, which can act immediately in case of an overdose.
The new local government has opened injecting rooms which provides a safe and controlled space for the addicts to inject themselves.
The Deputy Director of Bergen's Haukeland Hospital, Ola Joesendal, said that more than 90% of the city's heroin addicts receive methadone treatment. He added that for a small number of addict's methadone has not been effective but heroin might work.
Anti-drug campaigner Mina Gerhardsen, says that a public funded medical heroin programme would be too expensive and would not reach everyone, reports AP.
"It is not an option from the government's point of view," Cecilie Brein-Karlsen, Deputy Health Minister for the junior ruling coalition partner, the Progress Party, said. "We think we should prioritize other measures."
The government has been trying to persuade heroin users to smoke the drug instead of injecting it as it is not lethal. However, the injecting rooms wouldn't be allowed to use as a space where the addicts can smoke the drug, reports AP.
Smoking the drug would also cost $30-$35, too expensive and therefore a solution likely to be rejected by the addicts.
Another method used, is the nasally administered, Naloxone, which reverses the effect of an overdose.