As deaths continue to escalate from the opioid and heroin crisis across the country and here in Georgia, Channel 2 Action News visited an addiction clinic doing something you may say is unthinkable: giving heroin to addicts.
Despite the controversy, studies and patients experiences back up the success of the approach.
"No single treatment is effective for all individuals. Every person left untreated is at a high risk for serious illness and premature death,” MacDonald told congressional leaders.
MacDonald cited a New England Journal of Medicine study that supports heroin-assisted treatment in special cases. “We need every tool in the toolbox to rise to the challenge the opioid epidemic represents,” MacDonald said.
“If I didn't have this, the odds of me being a statistic right now are very good," Russell Cooper told Regan.
Cooper, 55, robbed banks and went to prison to feed his drug addiction.
She said because health care is socialized in Canada, addiction treatment is focused more on reducing the societal costs and less on treating the individual.
“I think that in the United States, we have a lot more hope for people. We have a lot more hope that we are able to introduce people to recovery as opposed to continued maintenance,” Blank said.
Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom also have prescription heroin programs.
"There should be nothing left off the table," Judge Robert McBurney told Regan.
McBurney sits on Fulton County's drug accountability court. It gives offenders with substance abuse problems the opportunity for alternative sentencing and treatment to rebuild their lives.
He said the heroin-assisted program may be an option for some hard-core addicts.
"It's a question of life or death for most these people and the notion that we ought not to try to preserve life and stabilize the situation so other forms of treatment could kick in, I don't see why we would turn away from that," McBurney said.
In Canada, there are many cities with injection sites where addicts can shoot up heroin under nurse and clinical supervision.
The mayor of Ithaca, New York, is proposing injection facilities there to combat the overdose epidemic.
What do you think of the idea? Let us know in the comments of our Facebook post: