Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Use of psychiatric drug treatment services by heroin users from general practice.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 12 April 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:997
  1. A B Bucknall,
  2. J R Robertson,
  3. J G Strachan


    Centres for the treatment of drug abusers are often integrated with regional psychiatric hospitals and are the focus of the British response to opiate addiction. Little is known, however, about the use made of these services by drug users in the community or about the success of these services. This study examined the use made of one centre offering a detoxification service by a cohort of 183 heroin users from a large Scottish general practice. Over half of this cohort were referred to the psychiatric drug treatment service, but less than one third started treatment. The evidence did not indicate that patients who had extended contact with the psychiatric service showed prolonged abstinence, though methodological difficulties necessitate further prospective studies. This study raises important questions about the value and appropriateness of this type of service in the light of the pattern of voluntary remission and relapse displayed by heroin users and in the absence of adequate provision for drug abusers in the community.