Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Creating a new drug service in Edinburgh.

British Medical Journal 1990; 300 doi: (Published 03 March 1990) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1990;300:587
  1. J Greenwood
  1. Royal Edinburgh Hospital.


    After one year Edinburgh's Community Drug Problem Service has shown that if psychiatric services offer consultation and regular support for drug users many general practitioners will share the care of such patients and prescribe for them, under contract conditions, whether the key worker is a community psychiatric nurse or a drug worker from a voluntary agency. This seems to apply whether the prescribing is part of a "harm reduction" strategy over a long period or whether it is a short period of methadone substitution treatment. Given the 50% prevalence of HIV infection among drug users in the Edinburgh area and the fact that only half of them have been tested for seropositivity, the health and care of this demanding group of young people with a chaotic lifestyle are better shared among primary care, community based drug workers, and specialist community drugs team than treated exclusively by a centralised hospital drug dependency unit. As the progression to AIDS is predictable in a larger proportion of drug users who are positive for HIV, there is an even greater need for coordinated care between specialists and community agencies in the near future.