Scotland’s problem with drug abuse has been well documented over the years. Many people in the country are being prescribed methadone in a bid to wean them off their heroin habits and recent figures released have revealed that Kirkcaldy as a town is issuing more methadone prescriptions than any other area in Fife. In addition, taxpayers are paying more for these prescriptions in Kirkcaldy than they are elsewhere.

During 2014, two pharmacies in the town administered just over 1,500 prescriptions for methadone and claimed back more than £40,000 each for doing so. Lloyds Pharmacy in Templehall and MacPharm on St Clair Street were the two pharmacies in question.

Cost Variances

There were more methadone prescriptions administered in Kirkcaldy than any other Fife area in 2014. Ten pharmacies in the town handled 3,841 methadone prescriptions, which cost the NHS almost £185,000. However, the fees charged by pharmacies varied substantially. The St Clair Street pharmacy MacPharm Ltd charged more than £60 for each prescription while Dysart High Street’s Wellbeing pharmacy was charging just £32 per prescription.

Figures also released  showed that the health centre in Easterhouse, Glasgow cost the taxpayer just £4.36 for each prescription.

Criticism of the Methadone Programme

The methadone programme has its many critics, with some believing that it does more harm than good. The Centre for Drug Misuse Research’s Professor Neil McKeganey is not in favour of the programme and said that it is ‘a black hole into which people are disappearing’. Thirteen people died in Fife as a result of methadone in 2013.

However, there are others that believe methadone is a helpful tool in terms of helping people to kick heroin. The area co-ordinator from Fife Drug and Alcohol Project Ltd, John Kennedy, describes the programme as ‘the first tool in the armoury’ for medical professionals in terms of stabilising patients. He did agree many heroin addicts end up on methadone for years and blames the ‘inherent chaos surrounding drug addiction’ for this.

The medical director of NHS Fife, Dr Frances Elliot, said a number of factors cause the cost of methadone to vary. She said it could be due to a patient’s particular stage of treatment or the length of time that the treatment is required for. She also pointed out that methadone can be prescribed for patients who do not have a heroin addiction but need the medication to relieve chronic pain.

Taking Methadone

Methadone is used in the treatment of heroin addiction and while the effects are similar to the drug, it is not as strong in terms of the high achieved. The idea behind the methadone programme is that those with a heroin addiction will be prescribed methadone instead. Their doses are typically reduced over time, which allows the patient to be gradually weaned off without suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone acts in a similar way to heroin in that it can relieve anxiety and make the user feel warm and relaxed. It is also beneficial in terms of relieving physical pain, which is why it is prescribed for some people suffering from chronic pain. Methadone should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor as it can be very addictive and can cause users to stop breathing if taken incorrectly due to Methadone addiction.

Alternative Help for Heroin Addiction

Those suffering from a heroin addiction can find alternative treatments to the methadone programme. If you or a loved one needs help for addiction, then contact Addiction Helper today. We are a referral service working with people suffering from all types of addiction; our job is to put those people in touch with suitable treatment providers all over the UK. For more information, call us today.

Source: Fife Today

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