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Georgian drug misusers switch to Western heroin substitute

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39185.649201.DB (Published 19 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:821
  1. Hannah Cleaver
  1. Tbilisi

    A heroin substitute that is made in Britain and mainland Europe and used in harm reduction programmes has resulted in an epidemic of addiction elsewhere, with the former Soviet state of Georgia hardest hit.

    Georgians, who have traditionally shunned heroin, are becoming hooked on what is seen as a “clean” alternative. They buy up pills of the synthetic opiate buprenorphine that have been prescribed to registered users in other European countries and smuggled over the Georgian border.

    It now poses by far the country's biggest drug problem, says Zaza Berozashvili, a legal expert on the matter in Georgia.

    At the end of March he addressed the Tbilisi international conference on countering terrorism and drug trafficking, which …

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