Methadone prescribed to wean drug addicts off heroin could make them seriously ill – and in the future may cost taxpayers a fortune, says Peter McCann, Chairman at Borders-based addiction treatment centre Castle Craig. Long-term use of methadone can lead to side effects such as osteoporosis and cognitive impairment.
“Many people have been on methadone for several years, some decades, because it’s cheaper for NHS than residential rehabilitation,” he said. “The concern is patients on the drug long-term are at high risk. In a few years they could be fracturing bones, have memory problems and prematurely admitted to care homes for the elderly.”
Researches in Austria and in the US suggest methadone-treated patients often show cognitive deficits in attention, working memory and verbal memory.
McCann also branded the NHS “negligent” because he says it isn’t warning patients of these risks.
In 2011 it was revealed that £500,000 is spent by the Scottish Government every week to keep drug addicts on methadone.
Page published: January 23, 2012. Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked June 14, 2021