Saturday, 1 September 2012

Methadone Deaths

The Office for National Statistics have recently published figures for drug-related deaths and although those for heroin show a marked decline, somewhat bizarrely those connected to the so-called treatment have rocketed. The 2011 figures for heroin or morphine overdoses were 596, compared to 791 in 2010. In 2008 there were nearly 900. 

According to the ONS, these figures reflect a reduction in the total number of hard drug users in the UK, together with a 'heroin-drought'. This shortage, caused mostly by poor weather conditions in Pakistan and disruption of supplies from Afghanistan, has led to heroin supplies drying up on the street and made finding any of high quality extremely difficult. 

Conversely, if the disease is not killing people, the treatment certainly is. Methadone deaths have risen from 355 in 2010 to 486 in 2011. It will be recalled that the Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr Clare Gerada, recently re-assured Russell Brand in his tv documentary that methadone prescribing was 'the gold standard' in drug treatment. In reality it's just a cheap treatment option and many people tell me much harder to withdraw from than heroin.

As an aside, I found it fascinating how the discovery of the substance came about in 1937 as a result of a German military search for an opiate substitute. It will be noted that they decided not to use the substance due to the significant number and character of side-effects, a situation confirmed to me on a regular basis by current users. 

PS Since publishing the above, I've been looking around further on the subject and found this response to an article in the British Medical Journal from 2009. In addition to highlighting just how dangerous methadone is, the author mentions something I was loathe to as possibly being in bad taste. They ponder the possible perverse incentive of such a treatment policy "as death is without doubt a drug free state."     



  1. If you want to spoil your weekend look up what happened to the German equivalents of your "difficult" clients under the Nazi regime - another form of "Final Solution" but one seldom discussed these days until the current debate on the "workshy" drew attention to the Nazi treatment of those it considered social untermenschen.

    Thank you for keeping going with your blog - you are making a difference just by doing it.

    1. Thanks Westengland - you do begin to wonder just a bit if anyone out there is reading it! The counter says yes - but....

      As for the other historical references to which you refer, the United States or indeed the UK have an uncomfortable past in relation to Eugenics of course.

  2. If you need reassurance on whether or not to continue, I can promise you the quality of your entries far exceed that of others who, as bit part players, assume lofty views not endorsed by experience. Please linger a while longer; your slant on things continues to inform and educate. I am sure you will find satisfaction in the thought that you may have changed a few minds, made someone look something up and perhaps altered their career path. The opinion of those with first hand involvement, always caps those who stand idly by.


  3. Agree with anon 19.39. Even if one does not comment, your experience and views has certainly had an effect on how I would have dealt with some matters in court if I were a member of the judiciary........!

  4. Thanks both for your kind words of encouragement - very much appreciated. Often as I write I have thoughts of my poor english teacher whom I utterly tormented with my bad behaviour. I think blogging is a bit like teaching - pebbles are chucked into the pond, but you never quite know what the effect of the ripples will be.

  5. My cousin was a heroin addict who was treated with methadone. She became addicted to methadone and suffered from methadone withdrawal. Thankfully, she did not die, but it has been a long road. She was able to get treatment and she is sober. Thank you for sharing this information. More people need to be educated about this.