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Coronavirus: Recovering heroin addicts offered monthly injections

A new drug for recovering heroin addicts is being rolled out across Wales to prevent them having to ..

By admin , in Health , at April 18, 2020

A new drug for recovering heroin addicts is being rolled out across Wales to prevent them having to make daily trips to over-stretched pharmacies.

Buprenorphine can be given as a monthly injection instead of alternatives such as methadone which are given daily.

Wales is the first UK nation to routinely offer the drug.

One woman on the treatment said: "You just feel well… your life is your own again."

Chemists are among the businesses allowed to remain open in the UK and have been getting up to a week's worth of prescriptions a day since the coronavirus crisis began.

Announcing the roll-out, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said former heroin users were at greater risk of contracting coronavirus because, as a result of their substance misuse, they have poorer immune systems and many have underlying health conditions.

A mother-of-one, who has been on the treatment for the past six months, said it was "liberating" and made her "hopeful for the future".

She said: "I became an addict when I was a teenager after a bad relationship.

"Before I knew it my life was in a downhill spiral."

She stopped using heroin a decade ago, but six years later she relapsed and was using the drug again for a year.

"Even when I've sorted myself out I would wake up feeling dreadful and anxious," she said.

"I would have to take something to feel better – over-the-counter medication – I never just felt well."

The 36-year-old, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "It is like a sentence. You have got to march up to the chemist every day.

"Even though I had been clean for three-and-a-half years, I wouldn't feel that was true because I would still take something every morning to feel better.

"Every morning I felt I hadn't achieved anything because of that. This takes that away."

Since being put on a buprenorphine pilot scheme in Wales, she said the monthly injections had given her "independence" and a clear head.

She said: "With opiate-based medication you lose sensation, you don't yawn, feel goose bumps as there is a deadening effect on your body, you feel numb. But you don't get that with this. It makes you feel well, but also awake in a way you don't with methadone, which makes you feel dopey.

"It is only the last two months it has occurred to me that I just feel okay. I can't remember the last time that happened.

"It is like having an angel on your shoulder."

The use of the slow-release drug had been in the early stages of being trialled in a few areas across the UK, having only been approved for use at the end of last year.

You can visit BBC Actionline for addiction information and support.

Cardiff-based drugs charity Kaleidoscope Project believes it is the biggest prescriber of the drug in the UK.

Its chief executive Martin Blakebrough saRead More – Source