At lack of support
John and students set to lobby Government
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.”