Crosstown represents an international move toward providing a full spectrum of care for people who are addicted to drugs. It isn’t a first-line defense against opioid addiction, and it’s not going to solve the crisis by itself. But for a fraction of opioid users suffering from addiction (maybe about 10 to 15 percent), other treatments won’t produce good results, almost certainly leading users to relapse — and possibly overdose and die.Read about Vancouver's heroin program at Vox
To combat this cycle, Crosstown offers these opioid users medical-grade heroin (called “diacetylmorphine”). Under supervision, nurses are at the ready with the overdose antidote naloxone and oxygen tanks in case of an emergency. These patients are the people for whom other treatments have failed. It’s a last resort. And it works.
Since 2011, the clinic has seen about 200 patients. None of them, MacDonald said, have died under the clinic’s supervision. In fact, as far as he can tell, no one has died at any prescription heroin facility due to an overdose — not in Canada, Switzerland, Germany, or the Netherlands.