Unfortunately there is no right to a prescribed detox from opiates, but detoxing from opiates is a ‘health need’ and the NHS health authorities have to ensure that services are available to meet health needs. You should be properly assessed and, if necessary, treated within a reasonable length of time.
Services that can prescribe drugs to help with a detox vary from area to area. There are three types of service:
- statutory drug services – services run by health or social services and usually mainly staffed by nurses and/or social workers working with doctors;
- non-statutory drug services – usually a registered charity funded by health and/or social services. The staff may or may not have professional qualifications and are more likely to include ex-drug users; and
- general practitioners – GPs are responsible forproviding ‘general medical care.’ Unfortunately many GPs believe that this does not include treatment for opiate dependence. GPs who do prescribe will usually do so with support from a specialist drugs service.
Some areas have statutory services, some have non-statutory services and some have both. Everyone has the right to a GP.
If you have to wait a long time for an assessment, or if you are not happy with the outcome of the assessment process, you can complain. If you want to complain about a service you can go to the manager of the service or to the health authority that funds it.
Your local Community Health Council (CHC) will be able to help and support your complaint. Their number will be in the phone book.