Fifty-seven methadone vending machines have been installed in British prisons in an effort to help opiate-addicted prisoners manage their drug addictions without resorting to illegal heroin supplies available behind bars.
The machines dispense individualized doses of methadone to registered prisoners after a fingerprint or iris scan. A total of about 70 machines are expected to be installed at a cost of approximately $6.5 million, roughly 10% of the British prison system’s drug treatment budget.
‘Methadone Vending Machines are a safe and secure method for providing a prescribed treatment,’ said a prison spokesperson.
‘They can only be accessed by the person who has been clinically assessed as needing methadone and that person is recognized by a biometric marker, such as their iris.’
- Methadone is the medication with the longest history of use for opioid use disorder treatment, having been used since 1947.
- The proper dose of methadone allows patients to lead a normal life without making them feel “high” or “drugged.”
- Methadone has a gradual, long-lasting effect of 24-hours or more, which mitigates any craving for other opioid drugs.
- Methadone is taken orally once per day, so there is no need for injection needles that carry the risk of diseases like hepatitis or HIV.
- Methadone is not a cure for addiction by itself. It should be used as a component of a recovery program that includes counseling and life improvement services.
- Methadone, like other treatment medications, should not be mixed with other drugs like alcohol, cocaine or marijuana that will increase health risks and lower the effectiveness of treatment.
- Some patients, in consultation with their doctor, decide to take methadone for years in order to significantly decrease their chances of relapse. Others prefer to become completely medication free after they get their life back on track, which takes time.
- Patients should never alter their dose or completely stop taking methadone on their own as withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings may arise leading to relapse.
- Methadone is as safe as any other medications prescribed by doctors. Methadone taken under a doctor’s orders does not cause harm to body organs nor does it alter someone’s ability to clearly think and function.