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Heroin addicts When Zurich was known for its ‘Needle Park’

It was impossible to ignore Zurich’s open drugs scene 20 years ago. Has the situation for addicts improved now that it's closed? (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

The Platzspitz is a park in Zurich adjacent to the Swiss National Museum and the main railway station. In an attempt to confine the sprawling use of drugs, the authorities decided in 1987 to allow the use and sales of drugs in the park. Thus Zurich’s Platzspitz became one of the biggest open drug scenes in Europe. 

What became popularly known as “Needle Park” went out of control, and was cleared by the police in February 1992. The drug scene soon moved to the nearby and equally central area of Letten, between an unused railway station, and  the banks of the river Limmat.

Under unprecedented pressure from residents, the Letten area was finally cleared by the police 20 years ago this month.

The experience with the open drug scene prompted Switzerland to opt for a pragmatic drug policy. Since 1993 Switzerland has considered strong addiction to be a disease and distributes medically controlled heroin.  

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