Top ten of 2021 #1 – Nothing to mourn; just a drug addict

A tweet from a colleague affected me this week. The subject was stigma in substance use disorders and he related how, at the funeral of a relative who had died very young from a heroin overdose, a family member callously slandered the dead man and skillfully ‘othered’ him. The message was ‘he was not at … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #1 – Nothing to mourn; just a drug addict

Top ten of 2021 #2 – Wiping out stigma

Reducing the stigma associated with addiction – the word itself now tagged with a degree of stigma – is a priority in drugs policy. Stigmatising attitudes contribute to drug harms and deaths through delaying access to treatment, leaving treatment early and increased risk-taking behaviour.  Brea Perry and her colleagues at Indiana University took a look[1] at … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #2 – Wiping out stigma

Top ten of 2021 #3 – The genesis of hope: a recovery story

Switching from doctor to patient was not an easy transition for me. My first attempt at recovery was medically assisted, but only got me so far. What I needed was something more profound: hope, healing and connection to other recovering people. In this podcast for the National Wellbeing Hub, Dr Claire Fyvie interviews me about … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #3 – The genesis of hope: a recovery story

Top ten of 2021 #4 – Growing older and more stigmatised on methadone

In a compelling study from Dublin, Paula Mayock and Shane Butler (Trinity College) make the point that little is known about the stigma experienced by individuals attending drug treatment services over prolonged periods.  They explored this through the lived-experience narratives of 25 people prescribed long-term methadone. Their findings ‘reveal the intersection of stigma with age … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #4 – Growing older and more stigmatised on methadone

Top ten of 2021 #5 – Choice in addiction treatment

As a GP in inner-city Glasgow in the 1990s, I looked after patients with heroin addiction. I got to know many of them well, I knew their families, I immunised their children and, distressingly, I saw some of them die. Because of the nature of general practice, I saw the dreadful impact of those deaths … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #5 – Choice in addiction treatment

Top ten of 2021 #6 – Opioid replacement treatment. Great! What’s next?

In opioid use disorder treatment, there’s been a persistent (though not always acknowledged) tension between what’s good for public health and what individuals and their families want from treatment. I’ve written about it before. For public health, there’s plenty of evidence that MAT (medication assisted treatment) reduces illicit drug use, improves health and reduces crude mortality … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #6 – Opioid replacement treatment. Great! What’s next?

Top ten of 2021 #10 – You’re all going to hate the word ‘recovery’.

One of the problems with an aspirational and non-prescriptive definition of recovery is that it is hard to measure. The definitions most commonly featured in the literature share some elements including wellbeing or health, abstinence and citizenship.  Clearly if you can’t define it precisely, then it’s hard to commission services to deliver on it. In … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #10 – You’re all going to hate the word ‘recovery’.

Did a recovery strategy cause drug deaths?

There’s a narrative that’s been around for a while, but it’s been gaining ground in the last few months. This last couple of months alone, it’s been in the ether, permeating social media conversations and even appeared in an academic paper. The issue relates to recovery-oriented drug policies and the tone is negative.  The thrust … Continue reading Did a recovery strategy cause drug deaths?

The tortuous routes to rehab

I’ve been reading a bit recently about the challenges of healthcare funding in the United States - an ‘international scandal’ according to Noam Chomsky. And although the problems are not the same, those issues have become linked with my thinking on the difficulties of accessing funding for residential rehabilitation in Scotland. The Lord Advocate’s recent statement allows … Continue reading The tortuous routes to rehab