Long Term Maintenance Shunned

Recovery from an addiction is a tough, long term process. A main concern of those who study addiction is that a user could replace an addiction to an illegal drug with an addiction to one prescribed as an alternative aid. It has become clear that to truly end an addiction a number of treatments must be utilized alongside medication.

A new report for the NTA by Professor John Strang of the National Addiction Centre has said that drug addiction treatments should increase the focus on supporting recovery from dependency and protect against ‘incorrect provision or unnecessary drift into long-term maintenance or substitute prescriptions’

Professor Strang’s report states that the prescribing of medications as a standalone therapy should not be used. Medication should only be used alongside other therapies that work together to achieve recovery. Drug workers should be encouraging their clients to discontinue the use of prescription medications as soon as they feel they can. He says that ‘a full range of psychosocial and pharmacological approaches’ has been shown to be the most effective when treating substance abuse.

The number of people entering treatment over recent years has increased, with evidence to show that many, have been allowed to drift into long term maintenance. This may be due to doctors being under pressure from ever growing waiting lists over prescribing medications in order to manage patients.  Whilst other therapies may demand more money and resources it is thought that in the long run they alone or in combination with short term drug therapy provide the best outcome for recovery.

It is important to state that studies of drugs maintenance programs both in the U.K. and abroad seem to vary in their finding. In some countries such as Switzerland heroin assisted treatment is part of the national health programme and in Germany studies have shown that long term heroin addicts fare better in improving both their health and social situation with treatment from diamorphine (heroin) than they do with prescribed methadone. The U.K. has been looking closely at using heroin as a legitimate component in their own national health provision. Evidence shows that methadone maintenance is not always the answer for every opiate addict with other countries’ findings showing that utilising heroin appears to have a better success rate in helping long term users establish a healthy and crime free life.

No matter which side of the fence you fall on here one thing is clear; that the bigger picture needs to be fully explored in order for recovery to take place.  This was acknowledged by DrugScope who said ‘Recovery goes well beyond the treatment gates; an individual's failure to access housing, training and employment, for example, will inevitably undermine both treatment outcomes and the wider ambitions of the recovery agenda’.   

Tracy Collins 2011 

No matter which side of the fence you fall on here one thing is clear; that the bigger picture needs to be fully explored in order for recovery to take place.  This was acknowledged by DrugScope who said ‘Recovery goes well beyond the treatment gates; an individual's failure to access housing, training and employment, for example, will inevitably undermine both treatment outcomes and the wider ambitions of the recovery agenda’.   


Tracy Collins 2011

 

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