A far safer alternative

I was interested to read Coun Hill's comments regarding methadone treatment, (Berwick Advertiser, January 25).

Saturday, 3rd February 2018, 08:00 am

As a retired GP, I have had considerable experience in managing patients with substance abuse. I have prescribed methadone to patients addicted to heroin, both in primary care and in the charitable sector working in Hull and Berwick.

My experience is that methadone is an important part of the therapeutic programme. Banning methadone is like trying to rehabilitate a stroke patient without a Zimmer frame. Some patients do fail and trip over frames, but that does not mean they are not useful.

Substance abuse is a complex issue affecting not only the patient, but also their family and the wider society.

It requires a prolonged intervention as there is no quick solution. Patients with addiction usually have a pattern of recovery and relapse.

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Methadone is not a cure, but as part of a programme, can help stabilise a patient.

Methadone use is far safer than injecting street heroin.

In the past, I have seen far too many deaths and serious illness to want to go back to the time before methadone was accessible.

Injecting is dangerous and encourages the spread of blood-borne viruses, such as hepatitis and HIV.

Drug abuse patients are not separate from the rest of us; they are part of our society. Increased disease burden in one part of a community can easily spread to the wider population.

Methadone has been shown to reduce criminal activity (used to fund drug purchase).

Patients on methadone can get on with their lives.

I have witnessed patients returning to work and parenting their children, and, on one occasion, going to university and getting a degree.

Methadone treatment is recognised by the WHO, RCGP and NICE as an important part of a substance abuse treatment programme.

Dr Chris Jary