Tag Archives: Drugs

The Crazy World of Medicine……

20 Jun

Austerity is the word of moment.  Accident and Emergency departments are stretched to breaking point; many are closing as are smaller local hospitals.  In a bid to make efficiency savings vital specialist services such as children’s Cardiology departments are be merged into fewer centres.  Some drugs are deemed too expensive, despite there efficacy, whilst other are available under a ‘post code lottery’.  Mental health services have been particularly adversely affected and offer very little in specialist counselling, leaving many people on ineffective medication in its place.  And yet, amidst all of this Homeopathy is an available treatment from the NHS……

Homeopathy was conceived by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 and based on the principal of similia similibus curentur (like cures like), according to which a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in a healthy person will act as a cure in a sick person.  Despite rigorous scientific testing is has been proven beyond doubt to be completely implausible and ineffective.  At best it performs in line with the results one would expect from a placebo, at worst it may even be harmful, especially if the patient has such faith in Homeopathy that they forego conventional, proven medical treatments……

Homeopathy has devised its own ‘scientific’ language to describe its treatments.  The original substance which may, or may not be associated with the illness it is intended to treat is diluted with distilled water or alcohol and further diluted.  This process continues until the required dilution is reached.  Counter intuitively, the more dilute the original; the more potent it is considered.  The amounts by which the treatments are diluted defy logic.  For example a Homeopathic dilution of ‘30C’ (the Homeopathic scale), 1ml of solution would be found in a cube of water with sides measuring 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 meters, or 106 light years square.  This means that a 30C Homeopathic remedy is what scientist call ‘water’.  It is far more likely that the solution is contaminated with other substances during the dilution process which has in itself more in common with Witch Doctors than Medical Practitioners.  In fact, there is not enough water on Earth to produce the highest Homeopathic dilutions, yet it is still offered as an alternative treatment by the NHS……

Anecdotal evidence from patients whom swear by the effectiveness of Homeopathy amounts to no evidence whatsoever.  I have a friend with OCD who must stand on every crack in the pavement lest he should suffer bad luck for the rest of that day.  He requires the help of the overstretched Mental Health Services as do the advocates of Homeopathy, which they may be able to get were it not for the latter……

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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……

Confessions of a Key Worker……

22 Aug

 

 

 

Introduction……

As regular readers of the Dripping Tap will no doubt have now surmised I have had my fair share of substance misuse over the years.  Thankfully, this is now under control and I have detoxed from the Opiate substitutes prescribed to me by the Drug and Alcohol Services.  This was undertaken with no support from them and by my own choice……

Confessions of a Key Worker……

 

On Friday I had a two hour meeting with my Key Worker during which we discussed the service, its objectives and the motivation behind its very existence.  It was during this exchange that my Key Worker stated; she hates her job and is overloaded with more clients than she can offer full support to, covering not just my home town but several others as well.  She also stated that she felt that the service was not based around the needs of its clients and that it was primarily a service for reporting statistics to a central Government office.  Amongst the data they collect is a ‘Treatment Outcomes Sheet’ (TOS).  This contains questions about daily drug usage, reported mood and, interestingly, it asks how many times you have shoplifted or used illegal means of supporting your habit.  My Key Worker admits that the TOS has little bearing in making clinical decisions and is primarily for reporting to central Government, although this is not made clear to the service user.  This is clearly at odds with the services mission statement which is all about ‘The individual needs of the client and a structured program of rehabilitation’.  In my own experience and that of other service users I have asked, the trend seems to be prescribing high doses on a maintenance basis with no plan in place to cater for detox and rehabilitation.  The new LiberalTorycrat Government has decided, probably for cost cutting reasons, to have a clamp down on this method of maintenance prescribing and, suddenly, an emphasis has been placed on reduction of medication.  This would be fine if they followed the NICE guidelines and the eight principals, the first of which states ‘Substitute prescribing alone does not constitute treatment without psycho-social interventions’.  My Key Worker insists that a once fortnightly session with them is the psycho-social intervention.  We disagree on this point as the guidelines also state that, for people with multiple psychological problems ‘a face to face meeting with a Key Worker does not meet the threshold considered as a structured psycho-social intervention’.  In my own case I have many complex mental health issues which they have singularly failed to address……

Manipulation of the Statistics……

Having researched the subject and printed all the relevant information from the NICE guidelines, Dr Dickhead, the consultant who has overall responsibility for the service, made the recommendation that my Methadone dose was increased, whilst writing to my GP to advise him that in his opinion my prescription for Diazepam should be reduced at 10mg per week.  This is at odds with the recommended reduction of 2 to 5mg per month.  This would enable him to manipulate the data to show an overall reduction in medication, even though the medication prescribed by him was to increase, therein increasing my dependency on Opiate substitutes whilst lowering other prescribed medication, giving the impression that progress was being made.  I believe this eloquently demonstrates the manipulation of statistics, the only aim being to secure the funding for Drug and Alcohol Services……

Conclusions……

Drug and Alcohol Services fail to meet either their own stated objectives, those set out by NICE and are failing the service users by not addressing the complex issues surrounding drug misuse. It causes damage to both individuals and their families.  I was tempted to get involved with the Service Users Forum but was told by someone who went to the meetings it was basically a den of iniquity attended by dealers who take the opportunity to use it a central point to distribute their wares……

Unless something changes at the very heart of the services offered to drug users, they simply end up with two habits instead of one.  The fact that the clinicians work in several towns means that there is limited access to the doctors, who only attend each clinic once or maybe twice per week, leading to many suspensions of prescription due to missing a one day collecting your medication, under which circumstances the prescription is revoked until one is able to see a doctor on the next available occasion.  In my own experience, once a prescription has been suspended it can take up to two weeks to get it reinstated.  Again, this fails under the guidelines surrounding ‘Contingency Management, leaving the client with no choice but to source illicit medication or to go back to using street drugs.  When this happened to me I was actually advised by a Key Worker to ‘use street drug but be careful’.  I have a witness to this meeting who also works in the healthcare sector and found this advice both disturbing & astonishing……

One final point; because I chose to detox myself to free me of the burden of jumping through the hoops demanded of me, my Key Worker stated that I no longer fell under the remit of the service as I was no longer being prescribed by them.  This is nonsense as, even though free of the chains of the service, it is at this very moment that you are at your most vulnerable and need the ‘support’ they offer……

I’ll keep you informed of any further developments……

F**ked Up……

15 Aug

Disclaimer:  By reading this article I accept that I am over 18 and shit….

If Quantum Theory is correct in the proposition that there may be an infinite number of universes in which, mathematics dictates that there are many versions of me, one of them contains a version of me with the Midas touch.  Unfortunately, I have to live in this universe and have had the misfortune to have just the right quantum state in every atom in my body to have ended up with the Diphtheria touch……

Thus far in my dismal existence I have hitherto managed to fuck up everything I’ve ever attempted to do.  I started by fucking up my education.  I went on to fuck up a promising career by fucking up on drugs which, with a predictable degree of certainty, fucked up my health and my family’s lives too.  I’m now financially fucked and mentally fucked.  I have arrived at the point that I’m afraid to create any attachment to anything or anyone for fear that, based on my current track record, I’ll fuck them up as well……

If anyone knows of anybody capable of making more of utter fuck up of everything than me, I love to here from them.  It might give me some incentive to regard small fuck ups as a minor achievement……

If you have anything you’d like any help fucking up, let me know……

Benzodiazepines……

16 Jun

Having hardly slept for 2 days I have collected my Diazepam pescription today.  Relief at last……

Benzo’s were discovered in 1955 and soon marketed as Valium.  They are used to relieve anxiety and can help you sleep if taken at night.  Even my Granny was on them back in the day.  Dependency is fairly rapid and doctors try to avoid prescribing them if at all possible, but for short term relief they still have a use……

Withdrawal, following long term use needs to be done slowly as the symptoms they are used to treat can come back with avengeance……

I take 4 x 10mg tablets per day, which is a pretty high dose but your tolerance soon builds and you’ll need more to achieve the same effect.  I do know one person who is prescribed 10 x 10mg per day which is practically unheard of, lucky git!……

Anyway they’re starting to kick in so I’ll drift off nicely in the next few minutes……

User’s Guide

I always start with 2 or 3, washed down with a couple of beers.  Neck a couple more when you wake up and you’ll feel great.  I strongly recommend adding a little Dia-Morphine if you can get it, which will greatly improve the experience……

Sweet dreams……

Lincoln Drug And Alcohol Service

7 Jun

The Lincoln Drug & Alcohol Service is ineffective, unprofessional and self-serving.

They treat their clients like third class citizens with no regard for their wellbeing, the wellbeing of their families and with no regard for those directly affected by their illness.

They make clinical decisions without consultation and with complete disregard to any legislation.

Their primary concern is self serving to ensure their continued funding.

They do not follow any established protocol in respect of obtaining the best possible outcomes for their clients.  Providing the right boxes are ‘ticked’, their funding is secured and so are their jobs.

The statistics speak for themselves.