Drug Substitutes are costing you £500 per Minute
Abstinence-based drug rehabilitation practised by Burton Addiction Centre (BAC) must be adopted throughout the UK if users are to be weaned off ‘state-induced dependency’, Burton’s MP says.
Andrew Griffiths spoke after uncovering figures showing heroin substitute methadone costs the NHS £235 million a year — equivalent to the annual salaries of 11,000 nurses.
The Tory, who sits on the Parliamentary Group for the Misuse of Drugs and Alcohol, said: “It starkly brings home to you the real cost of our failed drug policy in the UK. We are spending all this money on a treatment that is not getting people clean.
“Successive governments have failed to realise the key to tackling our drug problem is to get users clean and give them a fresh start in life, not to maintain them on methadone for years on end. “What we’ve seen is the methadone bill spiralling out of control and it will only get worse unless we take a radically new approach to drug treatment in the UK. “I’m absolutely convinced the approach taken by BAC, which is abstinence-based and is not just to manage people on methadone but get them clean, has got to be the way forward for the country. “My view is we’ve got people who are parked on state-induced dependency and we’ve got to break out of that if we are going to tackle drugs in this country.”
A BAC spokesman said the MP’s opinions mirrored its strategy, adding: “We are not saying methadone is wrong in all cases, but the important thing is people are able to get back into society and get their families back and then become worthwhile members of society again. “The way to do that is to go through rehabilitation so they become drug and alcohol-free.”
Figures obtained by Mr Griffiths show 95,000 addicts take methadone on the NHS for more than a year and 154,000 users receive that and other substitute drugs. Taxpayers pay a staggering £500 a minute for the service. A quarter of those on methadone, or substitute benzodiazepines, which are said to help addicts control and then defeat their abuse, are still hooked after four years. The treatment costs £10,000 per person every year.
Critics, however, insist methadone is just as addictive and suspends regular users in a sort of ‘half-life’. A total of 330,000 people in England are addicted to heroin, crack cocaine, or both. Ministers want to revamp the drug treatment regime by seeing more people enter residential rehabilitation and fewer taking methadone.