Heroin addiction is often treated with methadone, which is a synthetic drug designed to wean people off the more powerful and damaging illegal drug. While methadone is similar to heroin, it does not give the same high. The idea behind the methadone programme is that the addicted person will be prescribed methadone for a while and then be gradually weaned off, meaning that he or she will not experience the same withdrawal symptoms that would normally occur with discontinued heroin use. The dangers and probability of Methadone addiction are limited.

Long-Term Methadone Use

However, a former Kirkcaldy heroin addict has criticised the methadone programme in Fife and has called on a change in the way addicts are treated. David Thomson says he was addicted to methadone for thirteen years; he said that the public needs to be made aware of how the methadone programme actually works.

David says he spent most of his days taking methadone and, as a result, said he was living a ‘half-life’. He could not function without methadone and it left him feeling lazy and lethargic. He is now clean, saying that he feels much better for it. However, he is embarrassed about how he lived his life for so long and admits that he has never worked. He spent so long on methadone while claiming a number of benefits, which says all ‘adds up to one big bill’.

Free Drug

David knows many people taking methadone in his home town of Kirkcaldy and says that, for some, it is like a ‘free drug’. Many of these addicts mix heroin with other street drugs for a stronger effect.

Those on the methadone programme are prohibited from taking other drugs and, if caught, are struck off the programme. However, David says they can be referred again after six weeks.

He believes that methadone does have its place in society and is thankful for the fact that it helped him to kick his heroin habit. Nevertheless, he does think that taking it for thirteen years was too long. He thinks that two or three years are long enough for even the most severe heroin addictions.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Methadone when prescribed correctly can be extremely helpful in preventing withdrawal symptoms from heroin. Going ‘cold turkey’ from a heroin addiction can lead to terrible withdrawal symptoms, including vomiting, tremors, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, insomnia, and restlessness. This general feeling of being unwell can often cause individuals to give up and take the drug again.

The cravings for heroin can be too hard to ignore but, if methadone is prescribed, these symptoms are eliminated or severely reduced.

Effectiveness of Methadone

There is no doubt that methadone can be beneficial to some people trying to get clean from heroin. However, replacing one addiction with another cannot be the best way to treat addicts. Methadone is addictive and as David Thomson says, it should not be prescribed for long-term use.

Methadone can be effective in the short-term but the goal must be to get these people clean from any substances.

Alternative Treatment

Addiction of any kind is an illness; thankfully, it is one that can be treated. There are many treatment providers across the UK offering both residential and outpatient programmes for those with addiction problems.

Addiction Helper exists to put clients in touch with these providers. We have a large database of the most up to date treatments and can offer clients information and advice on how to access them.

If you are suffering from an addiction, or if you love someone that is, then please get in touch with us today. Our service is free and confidential.

Source: Fife Today 

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