Figures from the Scottish health budget show methadone for heroin addicted prisoners is costing £500,000 a year.
With health services already under a great deal of pressure, opposition politicians are calling for leaders to look into reducing the high rate of methadone use.
Scottish Conservative Chief Whip John Lamont said, “We have a major problem with methadone in Scotland and it needs to be addressed now. The SNP has lazily parked people on the heroin substitute, giving them no hope of recovery, and now we are paying the price.
“With the methadone bill coming to around £30million a year, it’s no surprise that it’s costing an average of £500,000 a year to give the drug to prisoners.
“What chance is there of trying to rehabilitate prisoners if there is little effort to reduce doses or help them to beat their addiction altogether?”
Proper methadone treatment relies on a user scaling back their methadone use while receiving some form of counselling support. It also requires users stop taking other drugs on top of methadone.
Unfortunately, some people are simply parked on methadone and left their without the proper support. This does nothing to break their drug dependence. It does however provide a cheap way for governments to claim they are helping fight addiction.
When methadone is prescribed without the proper treatment and scaling back it becomes less of a treatment and more of a harm reduction strategy.
The problem may stem from political perceptions. With methadone, politicians have a cheap way to treat a large number of addicts but there are questions about the effectiveness of the program. Other treatment methods rely on abstinence or use other methods but they often take longer and cost more money. This can leave politicians between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they want to be seen to help the largest number of people possible while on the other hand they want to provide the best treatment.