Reported by The Herald – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.

A leading doctor has said drug users should be given the same protections as disabled people and called for the Scottish Government to do more to defend methadone treatment.

The calls come days after Scotland announced record figures on deaths from drug misuse and amid debate over the use of opiate substitutes such as methadone.


Dr John Budd, of the Edinburgh Access Project, a clinic for homeless patients, said methadone was clearly one of the best treatments for people with chronic drug problems, but had been “damaged” by a toxic debate over its use.

“The debate over methadone has been very unhelpful,” he said. “The international evidence is overwhelming that it is effective in terms of risk reduction, reducing overdoes death, blood-borne viruses, the reduction in criminality, an increase in life expectancy – more so than any other treatment I employ.”

However, criticism suggesting people were “parked” on the drug for lengthy periods has led to negative perceptions of methadone, and stigmatisation of people who are on it, he said.

“The new drugs strategy talks about a rights-based approach. But there is still discrimination against people on the grounds that they are drug users.

“The attacks on methadone are a form of discrimination,” he said.

“In terms of equalities law, chronic drug dependency should be seen as a disability, I would like to see that recognised in law.”

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