My very occasional readers are well aware of my stance on methadone maintenance for habitual heroin misusers. For me, it's like giving an alcoholic free whisky to stop him using vodka. It keeps a generation comfortably numb, perhaps reduces some criminality, and gives the sufferer some respite from having to graft as much as they used to. It certainly, rarely, tackles the problem of addiction. Reduction programmes make me smile, because I can count in the figures of one hand the number of people who are free of addiction to mind altering drugs as a result of this sort of treatment.
I'm not totally ignorant or inexperienced. I've worked in the addiction field for over 30 years, and most misusers I'm in contact with top up their methadone with smack or something else. That's the way the addictive mind works. I know. I suffer from alcoholism, and if I had been born a few years later, I have no doubt that I would have dabbled in heroin with disastrous consequences.
I am slagged off by some professionals who know better, supposedly, among them workers who weren't born before my first burial of a couple who O/D'd up a close in Possil. Methadone maintenance does not, in the vast number of cases, halt dependency. In fact coming off methadone is a lot harder than coming off heroin.
I have no idea how much it costs the NHS to provide methadone maintenance, but it's probably much cheaper than providing what we really need, and that is much more residential rehab, and the support that is required afterwards to keep people drug-free.
Giving people drugs to stop them taking drugs is simple insanity, and they expect this to happen within the community, in the same shitty places where smack is more available than bread and milk. However, keeping them comfortably numb gives the police the courts and the social workers a wee break from absolute chaos, and allows a little bit of chaos to replace it.
It helps the jails too, because a wee appeal to a judge that Annie is now trying hard and is now on a methadone maintenance/reduction programme will save Annie another shot in Cornton Vale.
But does it help our sufferers?
Who cares anyway..... As long as we get a bit more peace.
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