Methadone prescribed 14,000 times

Reporter: Lobby Correspondent
Date published: 22 November 2010

MORE than 14,000 prescriptions for methadone were handed out in Oldham last year — more than three times that of Tameside and Glossop.

Official figures from the Department of Health show doctors signed off 14,300 prescriptions — anything from a single dose to a two-week order — between April, 2009, and March this year.

The figures were revealed at the end of Tackling Drugs Week.

Methadone is used as a heroin substitute when trying to wean people off the drug.

Alan Higgins, director of public health for Oldham, said: “We work with the Oldham Drug and Alcohol Action Team to commission local organisations such as Pennine Care and Acorn Treatment and Housing to provide a range of different treatments and support for people in Oldham with drug addictions.

“This includes providing substitute drug prescriptions, rehabilitation, treatment and counselling to help people recover from their addiction.”

The number of prescriptions prescribed varies greatly across the country.

In Tameside and Glossop 4,500 prescriptions were ordered compared with 15,300 in Salford in the 12 months, while Manchester saw the largest number issued — 54,600. Across England 2.4 million prescriptions were dispensed.

The cost to the taxpayer is thought to be between £3,000 and £4,000 per patient, per year.

Methadone is also an effective painkiller, and is often used in injectable or tablet form to ease moderate to severe pain in patients recovering from operations and serious injuries.

For free and confidential advice on drugs and drug abuse, people can call the National Drugs Helpline on 0800-77 66 00 or to find out more about what support is available contact The Gateway on 0161-604 3666.