Over-simplistic view of the opioid substitution service

I read with disappointment the letter by Wai Sin Kung calling for opioid substitution services to be scrapped (
The Pharmaceutical Journal 2017;299:40
). The views expressed were unfounded and simplistic. The opioid substitution service does indeed help some users to stop abusing drugs, but it is also there to prevent some of the social upheaval that often follows with a drug addiction, namely, crime, homelessness, prostitution, etc. Many of the service users I see (working within mental health) need supporting and careful management owing to their dual diagnosis (mental health condition and substance misuse) and not locking up in prisons for rehabilitation (at a huge cost to the taxpayer) or ‘outed’ as drug addicts. All this would do would be to drive the addiction underground and bring about the social and economic problems that I have mentioned. I would hope that the views expressed by Kung are that of the minority of our profession.

Anthony Young

Newcastle Upon Tyne

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2017, Vol 299, 7905;299(7905):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203359