Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cold turkey to replace methadone for addicts

Cold turkey to replace methadone for addictsHeroin addicts will be ordered to undergo "cold turkey" treatment rather than receive methadone* under a Government plan to tackle Scotland's chronic drug problem.

The radical move follows recent research which found that three years after receiving methadone only 3% of addicts remained totally drug-free.

Despite the poor effectiveness of methadone, £12m a year is spent doling out the heroin substitute to 52,000 users. The wider healthcare and crime-related costs of this army of addicts is far higher.

However, backers of methadone insist that it is also a solution, pointing out that less than half of those who go through rehabilitation programmes succeed in coming off drugs.

Bill Nelles, the general secretary of the Methadone Alliance, said recently: "For the people who do respond to methadone they should be able to access methadone for as long as it can be shown it is helping them."

* What is Methadone?
Methadone is an opiate that was first introduced after World War II as an alternative to morphine. Methadone was originally thought to be less addictive because of its extremely long half life. Today, methadone is used as an analgesic for pain management and more popularly as replacement therapy for heroin and other opiate addictions. Methadone is a cheap alternative to other opiate based medications which outweighs it potency when prescribing.

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