Drugs Don’t Kill People – Policies Do……

19 Dec

‘I was waiting in the reception area of the local Addaction clinic and thumbed through some of their leaflets to kill some time and noticed  advice given out only confirms the case for alternative approaches to treatment.’

 

The Leaflet in Question……

The leaflet was titled ‘Heroin – Essential Information about Heroin, What it is, how it is used and its Effects’.  It gives basic information about what Heroin is derived from, how and why people use it, details about how addictive it can be, health hazards, withdrawal and getting help……

A Couple of Pieces of Information Caught my Attention……

First:  Health Hazards – This is verbatim what the leaflet states:

‘Frequent injecting [of Heroin] can lead to a variety of problems; such as Thrombosis and blocked veins.  If you share or borrow injecting equipment (including needles, syringes and spoons), you run the risk of becoming infected with a number of blood borne viruses, such as Hepatitis C or HIV.

It is easy to overdose on Heroin, such as when the drug being used is unusually pure – or when it is being used with other drugs.  Most overdoses occur when the user has been abstinent for some time, and then injected their ‘usual’ dose.  Because it is often mixed with other substances, it is difficult for a user to know how much Heroin they are taking and, therefore, the risk of them overdosing is increased.

The substances mixed into the Heroin can cause health problems themselves, for example; powdered baby milk can thicken in your veins which, in turn, can lead to circulatory problems and even loss of limbs.  Others can cause Heart diseases, blood poisoning and lung disorders.’

Second:  Getting Help – Again, this is verbatim what the leaflet states:

‘If you want to stop you don’t have to do it on your own.  Asking for help from a drug worker is the first positive step you can take.

Addaction’s services are completely free and confidential.  We can help you find substitute medication (such as Methadone or Subutex) and work with you in managing your withdrawal.  Many of our services also have needle exchanges where you can get sterile injecting equipment, and return used equipment.’

Health Hazards……

There is nothing within the information offered which is untrue.  However, they highlight the very issues which an alternative approach to treatment could greatly reduce harm and the very same issues which have been addresses in the numerous consultations undertaken by Professor David Nutt, the former chairman of the Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and Professor John Strang the head of the National Treatment Agency at Kings College, London.  Both have advocated the use of Dia-Morphine in the treatment of Heroin addiction and which have been demonstrated to be more effective for compliance, negating the dangers highlighted in Addaction’s literature……

Getting Help……

There is nothing inherently incorrect in the ‘Getting Help’ section.  The services are indeed free and confidential to a point.  With regard to confidentiality, service users are asked to complete a Treatment Outcomes Profile sheet.  In my experience, anecdotally, service users are not aware of the purpose of this form.  It asks a variety of questions regarding a patient’s mood, the amount they have used and even if they have committed any crimes to fund their usage.  However, this form has no bearing on any future treatment nor is it used to evaluate the current treatment.  It is used to collate statistics by the Government.  If a patient was told with whom this information would be shared, they may reconsider their answers and even their willingness to fill in the form.

Another statement which is somewhat disingenuous is that an alternative medication can be found ‘such as Methadone or Subutex’.  Although there are many different medications which can be used, Methadone and Subutex are the only choices offered, even though the clinical guidelines allow for other substitutes; the same substitutes recommended by Professor Nutt, Professor Strang and cited in many other peer reviewed scientific trials……

The Aims of Drug and Alcohol Services……

The aims of drug and alcohol services are to reduce the harm caused to users and attempt to help them achieve abstinence.  The peer reviewed scientific studies referred to above demonstrate that there are much more effective ways of achieving these goals.  However, as I wrote about in ‘The War on Drugs’, it is the political stonewalling of the advice they contain which is causing the most harm to those involved in the war on drugs……

‘I was waiting in the reception area of the local Addaction clinic and thumbed through some of their leaflets to kill some time and noticed  advice given out only confirms the case for alternative approaches to treatment.’

 

The Leaflet in Question……

The leaflet was titled ‘Heroin – Essential Information about Heroin, What it is, how it is used and its Effects’.  It gives basic information about what Heroin is derived from, how and why people use it, details about how addictive it can be, health hazards, withdrawal and getting help……

A Couple of Pieces of Information Caught my Attention……

First:  Health Hazards – This is verbatim what the leaflet states:

‘Frequent injecting [of Heroin] can lead to a variety of problems; such as Thrombosis and blocked veins.  If you share or borrow injecting equipment (including needles, syringes and spoons), you run the risk of becoming infected with a number of blood borne viruses, such as Hepatitis C or HIV.

It is easy to overdose on Heroin, such as when the drug being used is unusually pure – or when it is being used with other drugs.  Most overdoses occur when the user has been abstinent for some time, and then injected their ‘usual’ dose.  Because it is often mixed with other substances, it is difficult for a user to know how much Heroin they are taking and, therefore, the risk of them overdosing is increased.

The substances mixed into the Heroin can cause health problems themselves, for example; powdered baby milk can thicken in your veins which, in turn, can lead to circulatory problems and even loss of limbs.  Others can cause Heart diseases, blood poisoning and lung disorders.’

Second:  Getting Help – Again, this is verbatim what the leaflet states:

‘If you want to stop you don’t have to do it on your own.  Asking for help from a drug worker is the first positive step you can take.

Addaction’s services are completely free and confidential.  We can help you find substitute medication (such as Methadone or Subutex) and work with you in managing your withdrawal.  Many of our services also have needle exchanges where you can get sterile injecting equipment, and return used equipment.’

Health Hazards……

There is nothing within the information offered which is untrue.  However, they highlight the very issues which an alternative approach to treatment could greatly reduce harm and the very same issues which have been addresses in the numerous consultations undertaken by Professor David Nutt, the former chairman of the Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and Professor John Strang the head of the National Treatment Agency at Kings College, London.  Both have advocated the use of Dia-Morphine in the treatment of Heroin addiction and which have been demonstrated to be more effective for compliance, negating the dangers highlighted in Addaction’s literature……

Getting Help……

There is nothing inherently incorrect in the ‘Getting Help’ section.  The services are indeed free and confidential to a point.  With regard to confidentiality, service users are asked to complete a Treatment Outcomes Profile sheet.  In my experience, anecdotally, service users are not aware of the purpose of this form.  It asks a variety of questions regarding a patient’s mood, the amount they have used and even if they have committed any crimes to fund their usage.  However, this form has no bearing on any future treatment nor is it used to evaluate the current treatment.  It is used to collate statistics by the Government.  If a patient was told with whom this information would be shared, they may reconsider their answers and even their willingness to fill in the form.

Another statement which is somewhat disingenuous is that an alternative medication can be found ‘such as Methadone or Subutex’.  Although there are many different medications which can be used, Methadone and Subutex are the only choices offered, even though the clinical guidelines allow for other substitutes; the same substitutes recommended by Professor Nutt, Professor Strang and cited in many other peer reviewed scientific trials……

The Aims of Drug and Alcohol Services……

The aims of drug and alcohol services are to reduce the harm caused to users and attempt to help them achieve abstinence.  The peer reviewed scientific studies referred to above demonstrate that there are much more effective ways of achieving these goals.  However, as I wrote about in ‘The War on Drugs’, it is the political stonewalling of the advice they contain which is causing the most harm to those involved in the war on drugs……

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