At lack of sup­port

John and stu­dents set to lobby Gov­ern­ment

Evening Telegraph (Late Extra Edition) - - PUZZLES - BY LIND­SEY HAMIL­TON

A FOR­MER Dundee drug addict has con­demned the lack of sup­port avail­able in the city for peo­ple com­ing off methadone pro­grammes.

Methadone has been at the heart of drug treat­ment strate­gies since the 1980s and is the most wide­lyused of the opi­oid re­place­ment ther­a­pies.

John Wylie, of Dud­hope, said his con­cern was that ad­dicts in Dundee did not have enough sup­port when com­ing off the sub­stance.

Now the 51-year-old, along with stu­dents, Con­nor Clark, 20, and Karen Kennedy, has been work­ing on plans to lobby the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment on the is­sue.

With the pair’s help, John has com­piled a let­ter of dis­con­tent, high­light­ing his con­cerns, and claimed the prob­lems be­ing faced by ad­dicts were be­ing “swept un­der the car­pet”.

John said he has been us­ing methadone for 17 years af­ter be­ing pre­scribed it for pain re­lief.

He said: “There was a time when I was also us­ing heroin be­cause it felt to me that it was the only thing that eased the in­cred­i­ble pain I was in.

“When I went to seek help, be­cause I was pre­vi­ously an addict, I was put on to methadone and sub­se­quently be­came ad­dicted to that. I have writ­ten this let­ter of dis­con­tent to raise aware­ness of the is­sues and con­cerns of those af­fected.”

The main is­sues, he said, were a wide­spread lack of con­sul­ta­tion and lack of sup­port staff.

He added: “I don’t be­lieve pro­fes­sion­als think about what im­pact their ac­tions will have on those af­fected. I also be­lieve there’s a lack of choice or adapt­abil­ity to in­di­vid­u­als needs, which leaves many with no choice but to get drugs off the street.

“There’s a dif­fer­ence in treat­ment be­tween re­gions. No progress is be­ing made to help peo­ple.”

Con­nor, a law stu­dent at Aber­tay, said that John didn’t feel he’d had enough help from the Tay­side Sub­stance Mis­use Ser­vice.

A spokes­woman for Dundee Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship said: “As a part­ner­ship, we aim to treat peo­ple ac­cess­ing our ser­vice fairly and with dig­nity and re­spect.

“We’d en­cour­age any­one with con­cerns about their treat­ment to con­tact our feed­back and com­plaints team.

“Re­fusal to give a methadone pre­scrip­tion would never be made eas­ily, and would be only af­ter sev­eral at­tempts to min­imise the risk to that in­di­vid­ual have been un­suc­cess­ful and where the risk of death from com­bin­ing pre­scribed con­trolled drugs with il­licit drugs con­tin­ued or if the in­di­vid­ual stopped tak­ing their methadone. When Di­azepam (Val­ium) use is also present, this in­creases the risks sig­nif­i­cantly for an in­di­vid­ual. In these cases a planned re­duc­tion over a pro­longed pe­riod would be con­sid­ered, but this form of pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion would never be stopped abruptly. As with any other drugs, when Di­azepam is used il­lic­itly this is ex­tremely hard to mon­i­tor due to un­known quan­ti­ties con­sumed.

“Within Dundee, there is a wide va­ri­ety of re­cov­ery ser­vices that can pro­vide ad­di­tional sup­port to any in­di­vid­ual re­quir­ing this. We en­cour­age any per­son who would like sup­port to re­cover to con­tact Dundee Health and So­cial Care Sub­stance Mis­use Ser­vice at 01382 632542.”

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman said: “We’ve re­cently an­nounced a re­view of na­tional drugs pol­icy. Drug tak­ing is falling and drug use among young peo­ple re­mains low. We’ve also achieved re­duc­tions in treat­ment times for those who need help with drug prob­lems. We’ve in­vested more than £689 mil­lion to tackle prob­lem al­co­hol and drug use since 2008.”

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