Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

February – March 2024 : The little things READ ONLINE


Putting methadone into perspective

May 18 2009
Any agency taking government money to deliver a drug strategy is legitimising its stance on drug prohibition Can I - with my hand on my heart, and looking at the broader picture - take money from the government as a drugs worker? Do I trust what is going on in the drugs business? To be perfectly honest, the answer would have to be 'No'. Any agency or individual taking money from the government to deliver their drug strategy is legitimising the government's stance on drug prohibition. By aligning myself with government strategy and taking the 'King's shilling', I am complicit in supporting a prohibition which, in my opinion, does not work. I could also be seen as being complicit in providing services that are ineffective and unfit for purpose. I could also be accused of indirectly supporting a worldwide coalition of countries which imprison, in some extremes execute, and in most cases scapegoat, pathologise, medicalise and criminalise people for using one substance as opposed to another. Once our government made the link between drugs and crime, all bets were off. They showed their hand and (in poker parlance) it wasn't the royal flush they had promised: it was more a sad little pair of sevens. This sad little pair was not about helping the individual, but about the government maintaining its position on prohibition and winning the losing war on drugs, whatever the cost. This was done, in part, under the banner "treatment works" but it failed clearly to define what treatment is or was. Methadone treatment and prescribing have to be viewed with this in mind and in this wider context. And methadone has to be viewed with a healthy amount of caution and scepticism. Dressing its prescription up as 'treatment' is an out-and-out liberty. Statements such as "higher doses of methadone keep people engaged in treatment longer" make me shudder. What a corruption of the English language. Drug dealers have being saying the same thing for years: "I have the biggest and the best deals on the block. If I didn't turn off my mobile, people would be ringing me 24/7". Look at crack houses and the old opium dens... The reality is that using high doses makes methadone a real hard drug to come off. Once addicted to it, people stay on it for years. Many addicts don't want to go on it, and who can blame them? If we can accept that people use drugs for pleasure and to escape from their internal conflicts, methadone use gives the user no real pleasure and only numbs the issues. It's an emotional crutch with no pleasure quotient. No fun at all. What a boring, insidious little drug it is - eeeehhh, nasty. Mind numbing indifference by the millilitre, a glorified cough linctus! It's little wonder that the majority of users drink or inject illicit drugs on top of their prescribed dosage. Methadone prescription is all stick with very little carrot and engenders little real positive change in the individual's thinking or behaviour: it's about compliance, coercion and control. If people use illicit drugs (though not alcohol) on top of their prescription, they will be taken off their methadone programme. This is not a bad thing, but here comes the clincher: if clients use on top, they can also have their methadone increased to stop 'em "using illicits". And if they don't comply with the increase, they can be thrown off their script. And lastly, just to add to this cacophony of pottiness?î??? A recent article in Drink and Drug News on homelessness and drugs stated: "When treatment and housing services do work together effectively, the benefits include lower rates of both repeat homelessness [OK] and anti-social behaviour [Ookaay], and that people are far more likely to stay in treatment programmes". Excuse me if I'm wrong, but I thought the point was to get people out of treatment programmes (the current focus is about in not out) and living successful, independent lives in the community. Not forever trawling from one service to another or from one treatment regime to another (DIP, hostel, third-stage, street, hospital, social services, prescribing services, benefits, prison, CARATs, Detox, GPs, needle exchange, probation, rehab etc etc). And lastly - and I mean it, now! If the only fast track into treatment in many boroughs is for methadone prescribing, thanks, but no thanks!