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German Drug Deaths at 15-Year Low, Government Credits Harm Reduction

 
by David Borden, Editor: Drug War Chronicle #387; 2005-05-20

Posted 5/24/2005 to:
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An annual report from the German Health Ministry has found that the number of people who died from illegal drug use in Germany is at its lowest level since 1989, and the German government is crediting harm reduction measures for the decline. Some 1,385 people died from drug overdoses last year, down by about a hundred from the previous year. (By comparison, about 15,000 people die from illegal drugs each year in the US. Since Germany has roughly one-quarter the population of the US, that means that US citizens are dying of drug overdoses at a rate roughly four times that of Germans.)

The German government has backed the establishment of methadone substitution programs and safe injection sites a cornerstone of its drug policy, with a total of 25 safe injection sites across the country. "The decline shows the government is on the right track with its help for drug addicts," drug commissioner Marion Caspers-Merk said at a Wednesday press conference announcing the data.

According to the report, between 120,000 and 150,000 people in a nation of 82 million are opiate addicts. Nearly half of them -- 60,000 -- are receiving substitute treatments, primarily with methadone.

While Caspers-Merk pronounced himself pleased with hard drug policy, he expressed concern about growing marijuana use among adolescents. Among 12-to-15-year-olds, 24% reported having tried pot, a figure Caspers-Merk found "alarming."

[END]

 

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Originally posted:  5/24/2005

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