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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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De-Criminalizing Heroin Addiction

March 2, 2014, 3:00 PM

Heroin addiction continues to receive media attention following the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. His tragic overdose introduced America to the fact that heroin addicts do not fit any certain stereotype, and that people can struggle with addiction throughout their lives, even after periods of sobriety. We have covered the science of heroin here on Big Think, but what about the societal impact of heroin addiction and what to do about it?

In the below video, National Geographic takes us to Switzerland, one of the more conservative countries in Europe. Major cities there were plagued with parks full of heroin addicts, which became regular sites of over-doses. Addicts were driven to commit crimes, including prostitution and robbery. The public outcry forced the government to act.

So the Swiss launched a program where heroin addiction is treated like a sickness and not criminalized. Addicts are given free heroin prescribed by doctors, and the program is paid for by tax-payers. A doctor involved in the initiative argues that it allows doctors to focus on core issues behind addiction, like mental illness. Crime has also dropped dramatically.

Watch the video and tell us in the comments what you think about this big idea?         Image credit: Todd Huffman/Flickr


De-Criminalizing Heroin Add...

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