METHADONE and other opioid replacement therapies (ORTs) often simply switch one form of drug use for another safer one and should be offered as part of a range of treatments to support sustained recovery, said Scottish Chief Medical Officer Dr Harry Burns.
He was commenting on the findings of The Scottish Drugs Strategy Delivery Commission which was commissioned by the Scottish Government to review current evidence on the use of methadone and other opioid replacements and make recommendations aimed at ensuring that ORT is being used as effectively as possible.
The commission concluded that ORT, in particular methadone, is supported by a strong evidence base, that local services are largely providing it in accordance with national guidance and its use should continue in Scotland. However, it also concluded that ORT must be one of a full range of treatment options across the country ranging from community to residential rehabilitation, and services should become more aspirational in relation to supporting individuals’ recovery.
Dr Burns, said: “Opioid replacement therapies, including methadone have had a beneficial effect in preventing the spread of viruses among drug users. However, they often simply switch one form of drug use for another, albeit a safer one. That’s why we need to find more ways of helping people access a range of treatments and support, tailored to their needs and their aspirations for sustained recovery.
"This review will help ensure that the right approaches and interventions are in place, while also making recommendations to further improve the quality of care across the country."