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
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.
- Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
- Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
- It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
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