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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 12:02 GMT
Experts in drug addiction debate
Experts say methadone treatment is a long-term issue
Tackling addiction among Scotland's drug users will take years and involve a wide range of services including methadone, experts say.

Some of the world's leading experts are in Glasgow discussing how to tackle drug abuse in communities.

The conference follows the death in December of two-year-old Derek Doran, who drank the heroin substitute at his home in Elphinstone, East Lothian.

This prompted a review of methadone programmes and rehabilitation services.

There shouldn't be a belief there is some kind of magic bullet out there that will enable people to become suddenly drug free in a matter of days or months
Professor Jason White
Director of treatment services South Australia

More than 650 delegates are attending the fourth annual National Drug Treatment Conference.

It comes at a time when drug treatment in Scotland is high on the political agenda.

There was concern last month when it emerged that an 11-year-old girl had admitted taking heroin for two months.

Neil Hunter, from the Glasgow Addiction Services Partnership, said there was no overnight solution.

He said: "People who we currently work with have long-term complex problems.

"The approach we have to take is about giving them a stake back in their community."

In the last 18 months, 1,200 people have accessed training, employment and education at the end point of their rehabilitation in Glasgow.

Beyond methadone

The conference is looking at how to treat drug addicts beyond methadone.

Mr Hunter said: "We do have a large methadone programme.

"There is considerable evidence it is very effective."

Professor Jason White, director of treatment services for alcohol and drug abuse for South Australia, said: "Drug services need to be comprehensive.

"They need to offer a range of different options that will suit different people.

"There shouldn't be a belief there is some kind of magic bullet out there that will enable people to become suddenly drug free in a matter of days or months.

"The important thing is any drug rehabilitation is long-term.

"It's a years' long proposition."

Methadone access

Bill Nelles is general secretary of the Methadone Alliance.

He has received methadone treatment for 20 years.

In that time he as held a post as a senior manager in the NHS for a decade, was awarded a degree at the London School of Economic and founded the alliance.

Bill Nelles and Annabel Goldie
Bill Nelles and Annabel Goldie called for greater choices for addicts

He said: "My life has been improved enormously by having my addiction recognised as something that I've tried hard to change but haven't been able to.

"What I have been able to do is have high quality of life with good methadone.

"I thinks it's great when people recover from heroin addiction.

"I know the reality is that is probably less than half of people who go through even such good treatments as residential rehabilitation.

"So we have to have the full range of options available.

"For the people who do respond to methadone they should be able to access methadone for as long as it can be shown it is helping them."

The Tories have called for different kinds of drug treatment, including abstinence-based rehabilitation.

Cold turkey

Conservative Leader Annabel Goldie said she was concerned there was an "over-reliance on methadone".

She said: "The key to dealing with drug abuse is a range of options.

"It seemed to be in Scotland we did not have a suitable range of options and we didn't have choice.

"There are not enough facilities.

"It really did grieve me to hear there was a facility with beds lying vacant and no referrals and there were desperate souls wanting help.

"There is not a shadow of a doubt there is a role for an abstinence message.

"That is what choice and rehabilitation is about.

"You cannot force someone into cold turkey."

Listen to Annabel Goldie and Bill Nelles

Methadone review after boy dies
06 Mar 06 |  Scotland
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