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Methadone is 'abuse'

March 14 2016
Former methadone users are demanding the NHS provide support to help people come off the prescription drug Long-term methadone users are being “sold down the river”, according to former users, who are demanding the NHS provide support to help people come off the prescription drug.

Peter Collins, 39, from Glasgow told the Pavement that he felt he had been “abused” by a system that “parked’” him on methadone to treat heroin addiction but did nothing to help him come off the state- prescribed opiate.

Collins, 39, was first put on methadone 15 years ago, when he was caught shoplifting and was offered a drug treatment order as an alternative to a prison sentence.

He said it seemed like a good way out of addiction, but he soon changed his mind.

“At that point I was taking whatever I could get my hands on – two bags or ten. I had no script, so I had to get up in a hostel every morning, strung out, and go out and steal so I could get money for heroin. It sounded great to get on to methadone. Little did I know I was getting tied up and abused. They moved me from one drug to an even more addictive drug.

“I thought methadone was going to help me. I begged them to take me off but they wouldn’t; it was because I was taking Valium or Tamazapan or smoking hash.

“They got me off heroin and on to methadone. What was the plan after that I’ve been chasing the answer to that question for eight months. It’s not right. Something has to be done about it.”

Collins managed to get clean after going into rehab in 2012, where he greatly reduced his methadone use. A year ago he finally “threatened” the Community Addiction Team to write him a reduced script and gradually weaned himself off.

“When I came off, I had pain in every part of my body,” he said. “I’d be sitting in the summer freezing cold. My body shut right down.”

He is now angry and says he was “robbed” of years of his life by not being supported to cut back on his methadone once he had come off heroin. He says he now sees more clearly.

“I started seeing how the world really is,” he said. “We get discriminated against – I’m a junkie scumbag. So as far as the Community Addiction Team (CAT) are concerned, we’re not worth helping. “Davie Main of Calton Athletic Recovery Group, which runs a 12-steps style abstinence programme, said people needed to be offered alternatives to methadone treatment. “It doesn’t work,” he said. “People are being sold down the river.

A spokesman for Glasgow NHS said methadone was still an key part of the treatment programme used.

He added: "All drug treatment, including methadone, is person-centred, with a care plan and a range of interventions tailored to meet individuals needs.

“There may be occasions where a health worker is concerned about a reduction or cessation of methadone, particularly if they suspect lapse or relapse is a possibility. People who are part of a structured methadone programme are far less likely to have a fatal overdose.”

The government claims the methadone treatment programme protects people against HIV Aids, and stabilises criminal behaviour. However, many report that they have continued to use heroin on top of their scripts, making any health benefits null and void.

Last year, it emerged that pharmacists in Scotland were paid £17.8m for handling half a million methadone prescriptions.

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