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Drug addiction Zurich’s infamous Needle Park

The misery of drug taking at the Platzspitz or “Needle Park”, located behind the Swiss National Museum – close to Zurich’s main station – caused a worldwide furore. Between 1987 and 1992, the park was home to Europe’s biggest open drug scene, with hundreds of addicts and dealers.

Having first tolerated the park, the authorities finally bowed to political pressure and closed it down on February 5, 1992. An iron gate was installed and the drug addicts told to leave, but there was hardly any accompanying medical or social care for them. The drug scene did not disappear – it simply moved to Zurich’s Letten area. It, too, was closed in 1995.

Lessons were learned from the experience and eventually led to the creation of a more pragmatic and socially acceptable drugs policy in Switzerland, which includes prescribing heroin to severe addicts.

(Pictures: © 1989 - 1994, Olivia Heussler/, picture editing: Salomé Weber,, text: Gabriele Ochsenbein,

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