Monday 26 August 2019

UK does not 'park' its heroin addicts on methadone

Methadone being dispensed in Mountjoy Jail. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Methadone being dispensed in Mountjoy Jail. Photo: Steve Humphreys

The UK says it does not "park" heroin addicts on methadone as the Republic does - some people here have been on the heroin substitute for as long as 20 years.

Some drug treatment centres in the UK also take mouth swabs to detect if people receiving methadone are taking other illegal drugs. If they are detected the patient's methadone treatment is stopped - unlike here.

The Republic still uses urine samples for testing, which can be easily subverted by addicts buying other people's "clean" urine to avoid detection.

Kate Egan, a recovery practitioner dealing with heroin and crack addicts in the UK, was critical of the Republic's failures in dealing with addiction.

"The practice of parking a client on methadone is viewed as poor practice, and we always encourage and support reduction at a realistic and manageable amount, which will vary from client to client.

"Methadone is a dangerous drug and, in my opinion, it should never be the end point in heroin addiction treatment. It should only be a temporary treatment option, with abstinence from all drugs the ideal outcome.

"Our policy in the UK is that methadone is seen as an appropriate 'medical intervention', but it is never offered without the service users agreeing to a psycho-social intervention alongside it. This involves regular attendance at a 12-week structured day programme."

Sunday Independent

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