Methadone for drug addicts costs the taxpayer £105m in four years
METHADONE for drug addicts has cost the Scottish government more than £105million in just over four years, it was revealed yesterday.
An average of £67,838 was spent every day buying and dispensing the heroin substitute since March 2006 – despite experts claiming it does not work.
More than 100 people have died of methadone overdoses in that time.
And there are fears that addicts are being “parked” on the substance as Scotland’s drug problems spiral out of control. Rehabilitation workers have joined politicians in calling for a radical overhaul of treatments.
Professor Neil McKeganey, of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research in Glasgow, described the bill as “staggering”. He said: “Scotland needs to address its reliance on methadone, which has become our main drug treatment – but it is costly and delivering dubious results. It is becoming difficult to persuade the Scottish government to look at alternatives. The solution is to get people off drugs and into drug treatment services. But that can’t be done by putting people on methadone indefinitely.”
Mark Hepburn, clinical director of the Alexander Rehabilitation Clinic at Oldmeldrum in Aberdeenshire, said: “My criteria for recovery is not for a drug-maintained life, but a drug-free one. But we are just parking people on it.”
Former Aberdeen heroin addict Barry Glaze, 29, was on methadone for five years and now believes it made coming off drugs harder. He said: “I started taking heroin when I was 16 and was first prescribed methadone when I was 19. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I came off it and that was after I asked my GP. If I hadn’t, I would probably still be on it.”
Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: “There have been too many cuts in services that work with addicts, and unless we see support for these services then these figures will not go down”.
The government spent £20.5million prescribing the drug in 2006-07, £24.7million in 2007-08, £27.5million in 2008-09 and £27.9million in 2009-10.
A government spokesman said: “We know that the annual cost of drug misuse in the wider context of total economic and social costs is estimated at £3.5billion.
“That’s over £60,000 per problem drug user – a cost for the whole community. However, these costs typically decrease by tens of thousands of pounds once an individual engages in treatment to support their recovery.
“That’s why we are providing a record £28.6million investment in frontline drug treatment services in 2010-11 and our view is that the overarching aim of all drug treatment services should be recovery and this is at the core of our drugs strategy.”
Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news 30.09.10