Recovering drug addicts forced from substance misuse service

Methadone
Methadone

By Faith Orr

Recovering drug addicts in Aberdeenshire are being forced to look elsewhere for treatment after a doctors surgery shut down its substance misuse service.

The Finlayson Street surgery in Fraserburgh have made the move following the retirement of Dr Sandy Wisely, who was made famous when he revealed the abundance of reforming drug addicts in the area and began freely handing out prescriptions for methadone and other drug replacement therapies.

The move has sparked fears of an increase in suicides and crime in the area.

Former drug addict, Colin Clark, told of his experiences at suddenly being taken off methadone: “It wasn’t good, the last time I saw Dr Wisely he gave me my usual prescription and when I went in to get my next one there was another doctor who said that Wisely had left and everyone was getting put on a reduction.

“My reduction started two days later and I was told I was to be taken off at a rate of 10ml a week. When I reducing I was okay but when I came off methadone altogether, I had to miss work as I had ill effects. Some of my friends even had seizures.”

This severe reduction is in contrast to government guidelines which suggest that for extreme cases methadone should be reduced by a maximum of 3 to 5 millilitres every week.

Devin Brown of Solid Rock Cafe, a drop-in centre for drug addicts in Fraserburgh, said: “I truly think Dr Wisely had a good heart when he started putting patients on oxycontin, nitrazepam, diazepam, opiates, sleeping tablets and valium but over the past 15 years he has created a monster.”

Devin also added that although he thought the scheme was ‘mental’ and would be tough for addicts, the reduction could partly be a good thing because it will force addicts to face their problem and take action.

Dr Wisely’s former patients will be referred to the alternative Kessock Road Clinic, but there is a six month waiting list for methadone treatment.

Colin, 32, added: “Now that I’m drug free, I suppose the reduction programme worked for me, although it was a nightmare at the time. I know other reforming addicts in the area are turning to crime to pay for drugs because they can’t get treatment at the Kessock. They are prioritising people for treatment now and people with children and those who are working are being put nearer the top of the list but even they still have to wait far too long.”