Methadone programme fails 97% of heroin addicts – U.K.

From Scotland:

The study, by Glasgow University’s Centre for Drug Misuse Research, has shown that the vast majority of addicts on the £6.5m-a-year heroin-replacement programme are still taking illegal drugs years later. According to the study, which followed 695 drug users from 33 addiction centres across Scotland, 97% were still taking methadone or illegal drugs three years after receiving their first dose.

Neil McKeganey, who led the research, has blamed the programme’s failure on the policy in Scotland, which aims to stabilise addicts’ drug use rather than getting them permanently off drugs, as in England. Methadone treatment is supposed to wean addicts off drugs by slowly decreasing the amount prescribed. However, in some cases drug abusers are kept on a steady dose to avoid a return to heroin once the dosage drops.

Bad news. McKeganey has been an outspoken critic of their methadone programs for some time but I’ve never seen any accusation that he’s cooking his numbers. It’s noteworthy that the ir programs appear to be long term detox rather than the U.S. goal methadone maintenance.

One thought on “Methadone programme fails 97% of heroin addicts – U.K.

  1. The surprise over how few people became drug free in the DORIS study in the methadone group was because when they entered treatment, more than half stated their only goal was to become drug free. Over three years, less than four percent achieved this.If the service is not giving patients what they want, then we do need to look at providing other services. The government in Scotland has just funded a pilot programme to help people achieve this.


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