Posted by: Connie Pringle29 AUG 2012
The otherweek I settled down to watch a documentary about drug addiction, hosted by RussellBrand. I'm not usually a fan of his style, but I couldn’t resist such aninteresting topic! Having watched avidly, I’d recommend that PJOnline blog readers view, or at leastskim through the programme, which is available from the bbc iplayer website.
Although not claimingto be an evidence-based scientific exploration, ‘addiction to recovery’ did deal well with the factors influencing addiction and public attitudes towardssufferers. The programme championed compassion towards addicts and formed a strongargument that addiction should be treated, predominantly, as a health andsocial issue rather than a judicial one. I agree, and I agree with AlexMacKinnon, as reported last week by PJOnline.
“the controversy is...that drug addiction remains soprevalent in areas of multiple deprivation in one of the world’s most wealthynations."
This came as the RPSdirectorate responded to accusationsfrom the Scottish media that the supply of methadone to addicts from communitypharmacies is little more than a shallow money-maker. Even Russell Brand seemedto have slightly more tact when questioning the suitability and effectivenessof methadone maintenance treatment in comparison to abstinence. Interviewing an unconvinced Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GeneralPractitioners for his programme, Russell Brand was unashamedly critical aboutthe use of methadone to treat recovering drug addicts.
Whatever we make of hisarguments in light of our clinical experience, Brand’s documentary makes onetangible and overarching point. This; everything we do is worthless if we failto understand and account for patient perspectives in the treatment of drugaddiction.
I could memorise the BNFentry for methadone (and perhaps buprenorphine and chlordiazepoxide for goodmeasure) and never get to the bottom of why my patients do or don’t want totake it.
Within pharmacy, andcertainly within British society as a whole, there is a deep-rooted stigmaassociated with drug addiction. I think it can be visible in the attitudes ofpharmacists, who might supply a top quality service but might be quietlytempted to scorn the lifestyles of patients collecting undersupervised consumption.
What will do to getalongside our patients suffering from drug addiction, a health issue as validas any other presented by the prescriptions and patients that pass through thepharmacy?
How will we challenge ourown stereotypes, and those of others, to ensure that we give patients the bestchance of full recovery?