Heroin assisted treatment

This term is used for the prescription of a pharmaceutical drug, diamorphine, to people who have a drug problem involving opiates or opioids, usually heroin (see opiate substitution therapy). This practice is one of the oldest treatments for opiate dependency (see British system).

Objection has been raised to this term as it may confuse people who regard heroin as, necessarily, a street drug. In fact, of course, heroin is a discontinued trade name used by the German pharmaceutical firm Friedrich Bayer & Co from 1898. One way of addressing this would be to refer to HAT as ‘diamorphine assisted treatment’.

There has also been confusion between heroin assisted treatment and a drug consumption room. This was unhelpful in the context of the proposal for both services to be delivered from the same premises in Glasgow. Media and some stakeholder professionals became confused about the distinction between the two services and their legal status.