War on drugs is a losing battle says addict

PUBLISHED: 11:03 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:51 16 June 2010

A heroin user from Honiton says he has been addicted to the drug for over 20 years.

A heroin user from Honiton says he has been addicted to the drug for over 20 years.

A Honiton man, who has been a heroin addict for over 20 years, has spoken to the Herald of his battle to quit the drug.

A Honiton man, who has been a heroin addict for over 20 years, has spoken to the Herald of his battle to quit the drug.

The Herald has respected his wish not to be identified, to protect his children.

The man, in his 50s, says he cannot go for more than a few days without getting a fix.

He said he started when the long-term relationship with the mother of his children ended.

"It's an anaesthetic," he said. "It blocks out physical and emotional pain.

"Initially, it's the ultimate buzz but, before you know it, you have to take it to be normal.

"I know it's my fault I'm on it. I wish I'd never come into contact with it. My life would have been better without it.

"The drug is completely negative - contributing to my lack of employment, my standard of living and a strained relationship with my family."

He does not believe claims that people who use cannabis automatically go on to use heroin, but says it can depend on who they buy their drugs from, and what the dealer has to offer.

He believes that dealers earn between £500 and £750 a day, and the money is used to fund organised crime.

He believes a heroin addiction also increases the likelihood of committing crime - with people stealing to feed the habit. He argues it is responsible for around 80 per cent of crime in the area.

He said: "I don't think it's a problem that's going to go away, unless you stop it coming into the country.

"I think the problem is underestimated in the area. The police are doing a good job, but they're fighting a losing battle."

He fears being caught in possession of the drug - which could potentially leave him homeless and put his children in jeopardy - and says he desperately wants to quit the habit.

However, he has to wait 22 weeks before he can be assessed by ENDAS, the Exeter, East and Mid Devon addictions team.

He said: "I've never been able to go for more than a few days without heroin. It's left me sweating one minute, then freezing and putting on jumpers the next. One hour feels like a day."

He draws comparisons with the treatment of addiction in Switzerland and speaks in favour of making heroin legally available for addicts. But, he stresses, he does not want to legalise heroin in general, for fear it would encourage wider use.

He said: "You need the right sort of environment to quit - prison or a detox programme. There are success stories.

"I think, for younger people, it's easier to get off it.

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