Zurich's 'Needle Park'

(Zurich's 'Needle Park') "Increasingly desperate to find a way to control crime and social and health harms associated with injection drug use, in 1987 the Zürich authorities allowed people who used illicit drugs to gather in a defined space near the main train station—the Platzspitz park, which sat on a small spit of land surrounded by the water of two converging rivers (Grob 1995). This space came to be known as the 'needle park.' Up to 1,000 drug users per day would come to the park at its peak (Grob 2010).

Drug Arrest Trends in Switzerland

(Drug Arrest Trends in Switzerland) "Total drug arrests increased substantially in the 1990s and rose slightly in this decade. There was a large decline in heroin arrests (from 18,000 in 1997 to 6500 in 2006), compensated for by an increase in cannabis arrests. About 80 percent of arrests are for possession rather than dealing. Switzerland makes more arrests (per capita) for simple possession of cannabis than even the United States; comparative figures for a number of countries are provided in Figure S2.

Trends in Drug-Related Mortality and Injection-Related HIV in Switzerland

(Trends in Drug-Related Mortality and Injection-Related HIV in Switzerland) "Drug-related deaths, most of which are a consequence of heroin dependence, have declined since the early 1990s, from 350-400 per annum to 150-200 per annum in this decade. HIV infections related to injecting drug use have also declined. This may reflect a modest decline in injecting, as opposed to smoking or snorting, of heroin, a decline in needle sharing among users because of Syringe Exchange Programs and the lower population of heroin dependent users."

Prevalence and Trends in Heroin Use in Switzerland

(Prevalence and Trends in Heroin Use in Switzerland) "Heroin has been, at least until very recently, the principal drug problem for Switzerland, as for most Western European nations. In the mid-1990s Switzerland had a heroin addiction prevalence that may have been the highest in Europe. Switzerland’s heroin problem has been declining steadily over the last decade. The estimates of the size of the group are crude but show a reduction from about 29, 000 in 1994 to 23,000 in 2002, the most recent year for which an estimate is available.

Treatment Description

(Treatment Description) "Despite the availability of a wide range of treatment programs, including methadone substitution, not all drug addicts with serious health and social problems could be motivated to enter treatment. A core group remained, which was characterized by numerous social and physical deficiencies. In an attempt to reach this group, Heroin on prescription was launched in 1994 as part of a nationally-based research project.

Decline in Heroin Use

(Decline in Heroin Use) "Heroin misuse in Switzerland was characterised by a substantial decline in heroin incidence and by heroin users entering substitution treatment after a short time, but with a low cessation rate. There are different explanations for the sharp decline in incidence of problematic heroin use. According to Ditton and Frischer, such a steep decline in incidence of heroin use is caused by the quick slow down of the number of non-using friends who are prepared to become users in friendship chains.