New offer to smoke heroin – hopefully, more people will quit their needles

Smoking room for heroin opens in OsloSmoking room for heroin opens in Oslo.Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

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Users in Oslo can now inhale heroin under the supervision of health professionals. The hope is to reduce overdose rates.

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“This means a lot to me, to be allowed to sit here,” Calle told NTB.

He is about 40 years old and for several years has used the injection room in Oslo, where users can now put in heroin needles under the supervision of health professionals. But now they finally have a room where inhalation of heroin is possible.

“Calle” has just bought 0.4 grams of heroin and he heats the drug in the aluminum foil he has been given to inhale.

“For me, smoking has a better effect. I have been using heroin for 10 or 15 years and I have never overdosed. I also use needles, but very rarely,” he says.

For several years, health authorities have been trying to get more people to smoke heroin instead of injecting it with needles. The risk of overdose is much, much greater with a needle.

– When the plunger of the needle sinks into the ground, the dose is in the blood. Then it cannot be changed back,” says nurse specialist Christina Livgard in the Oslo injection room, who is with the users and follows them from the moment they arrive until they finish, mentioning that the participants would love to bring a cup of coffee on their way out and have a little chat.

Going to sleep before the overdose

As of 1 January 2019, the law that has made injection rooms possible in Oslo, the so-called “injection room law”, became a “user room law”. This opened the possibility for users to ingest other substances in the room as well and using other methods. Like sniffing and smoking.

But to make smoking easier, they first had to build a room with a cubicle and powerful ventilation. Livgard says the risk of overdose is virtually eliminated by smoking.

“You want to fall asleep before you inhale an overdose. But you cannot go on when you have fallen asleep,” says the nurse.

Also, there is less risk of spreading the infection.

My sisters

“Calle” was the first in Norway to use the new smoking room. For a couple of weeks, he was able to test the room and helped with knowledge and experience in training the staff, before it was officially opened on Monday, the day of the global overdose.

“Finally, it has become a law, fortunately. I’m very happy about that because what I like best is smoking,” he says.

He says he uses the users’ room three or four times a day and refers to the employees as his “sisters”.

– Here he can be allowed to regret it. You can be angry, frustrated. You can be happy. You can be yourself. And if you need a hug, you’ll be happy to get it,” he says.

Addiction to needles

When “Calle” is nearing the end of his heroin dose, a friend enters his room to smoke some himself. The friend usually sticks to the needles, but he has chosen to smoke a little today.

“Smoking is very tender, very social,” he says.

And he explains:

-Getting over the hassle of loving the needle is hard, it’s damn hard. Because it is often you get hooked on the needle itself. We call it being needle-horny, he says.

“Calle” has finished smoking this time. He washes the table in front of him with an Antibac napkin, throws the aluminum foil in the trash, and turns his course up towards Karl Johan to sit down with the coffee cup in front of him.

– I usually sit for a few hours every day. I got in 400 hours now just before I came here, he says.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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