Scrap the opioid substitution service

I am a locum pharmacist who has worked in pharmacies in various regions of England. In many of the pharmacies I work in, I dispense methadone or buprenorphine to substance misusers and also provide clean needle packs as requested. It is disturbing for me to see drug misusers collect their methadone or buprenorphine doses and also request needles.

Opioid substitution is supposed to help them come out of addiction. Collecting and using needles to abuse more opioid substances defeats the purpose of the substance misuse service. The patients will end up in a vicious cycle where they will continue to abuse the service, which is funded by taxpayers like me. It is a pity we cannot name these patients because of confidentiality issues. Sometimes, these substance misusers may try to hide their methadone or buprenorphine doses (even under a supervised consumption environment), perhaps trying to sell it on. In other words, they are turning the taxpayers’ money into their money.

If the NHS needs to cut funding, the substance misuse service should be the first to go. Rehabilitation should take place in confined areas like prisons because if substance misusers do not treasure this free service, they should pay for the consequences, not the taxpayer. The NHS can reinvest the money saved into, for example, better cancer treatments.

Wai Sin Kung



Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2017, Vol 299, No 7903;299(7903):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202303

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