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
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In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
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