Norway to test free heroin program for addicts

Norway will begin testing free heroin prescriptions for the most serious of drug addicts in hopes it will improve their living conditions, the government said Friday.

Norway had the highest average of overdose deaths in Europe, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The country averaged 81 deaths per million in 2015. Estonia and Sweden were second and third, respectively.

“We hope that this will provide a solution that will give...a better quality of life to some addicts who are today out of our reach and whom current programs do not help enough,” Health Minister Bente Hoise wrote in a Facebook message, according to AFP.

Supporters argue that prescribing heroin increases the quality of life for addicts because they're not given a form of the drug that's been cut with any other harmful substances, such as Fentanyl. The practice, advocates say, lowers the overdose mortality rate and reduces crime and costs that come along with it.

The project is set to launch in 2020 at the earliest, the health ministry said.