View attachment 41151 SCOTLAND - NHS doctors are now prescribing well over a million daily doses of the treatment which is seven times more costly than methadone. During 2012/13 addicts were given 1,134,768 doses of the oral medication costing £3.3million and the figure has risen year-on-year, up from 103,859 doses costing £312,000 in 2007/08.
The new Scottish Government figures show that methadone use has fallen from an all-time high in 2010/11 when it peaked at 25.6million daily doses to 21.3million last year. Costs have fallen from £9million to almost £5million, although the total cost of the methadone programme - including supervision fees - was still almost £23million last year. According to NHS Lothian figures, the annual drug cost per average daily dose for Suboxone is £1,650 compared to £250 per year for methadone.
However, researchers say it is more effective as it leaves addicts with a "clear head" and prevents withdrawal symptoms. It is also much harder to overdose on Suboxone compared to methadone which was responsible for 221 drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2012.
However, it can still be dangerous especially if injected or mixed with other substances. It can also become addictive, with users reporting a sense of wellbeing, and it has become a popular recreational drug especially in the USA. A number of celebrities have admitted to becoming addicted to Suboxone which can also be used for pain control. Two years ago Michael Douglas’s son Cameron, having already been jailed for drug offences, was found with Suboxone and heroin in his prison cell.
Around the same time MTV’s Teen Mom, Amber Portwood, asked to be sent to prison to go cold turkey after becoming dependent on the drug. Actress Kristen Johnston, from popular sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, and True Lies star Tom Arnold have also spoken about how Suboxone helped them beat addictions. Last night the Scottish Conservatives questioned the benefits of treating heroin addiction by supplying addicts with a different kind of drug.
Health spokesman Jackson Carlaw added: "There’s no question methadone use has to be reduced, because it cost tens of millions and offers people almost no chance of complete recovery. “We’ve been calling for action for some time from the Scottish Government on this front. However, simply substituting it for another replacement therapy is not the direction we want to be taking.
“We think abstinence-based programmes which require the complete co-operation of the state and the individual are the best way of helping people beat this terrible scourge. If Scotland becomes too dependent on another medication for this, we risk not tackling the true root of the problem.”
The drug has been trialled in Lanarkshire, where around a quarter of addicts now receive Suboxone, although the figures show it is used in every health board area. Last year, Dr Steve Conroy from NHS Lanarkshire’s Alcohol and Drug Service, said: "We found that Suboxone doesn’t have the same amount of stigma and people describe themselves as feeling like normal customers when they go to the pharmacy to get Suboxone.
"They feel a lot less stigmatised because they do not need to drink the green fluid of methadone." He added: "People feel a lot healthier on it. Methadone makes people feel a bit cloudy and they often just don’t feel right on it. Suboxone leave people much clearer thinking. And if you are clearer thinking and the brain is working properly then you can hopefully start making better life decisions and be more able to get employment or education."
Scottish Sunday Express/Oct. 19, 2014