Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium chairman suggests prescribing drug could help cut the number of deaths
One of Scotland’s most senior government drug advisers has called for some addicts to be prescribed heroin on the NHS.
David Best, who chairs the Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium, believes the step could help reduce the number of drug deaths in Scotland and get users off drugs altogether.
The policy, already adopted by governments in several European countries, would apply only to addicts who had failed to respond to other treatments.
Best said he believed the strategy seemed a good way of engaging with drug users who were resistant to other forms of treatment.
“It should only be offered to those who have failed with all other options and — as with methadone — only if there is a clear recovery plan,” he said.
The government said it had no plans to follow his advice, but that it will fund a treatment that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, another of Best’s ideas.
Users and family members are to be issued with naloxone, which can block the life-threatening actions of an opiate overdose. Best said it should be offered to all addicts beginning methadone treatment and to those who have just left prison or are in homeless units.
The substance is being piloted on a small scale in Glasgow, where it has saved 10 out of 11 people who have taken overdoses. A single dose costs less than £6, and supporters say it will save public funds as well as lives.
Fergus Ewing, the community safety minister, has asked advisers to draw up a national protocol on its use.
However, the move has been criticised by Neil McKeganey, director of the centre for drug misuse research at Glasgow University, who said that, like the morning-after pill, naloxone encouraged “riskier behaviour”.
December 27, 2009