In the UK, supply of officially listed drugs (a range of opioids and cocaine) for the purpose of sustaining
6 Bourne P 1976 Acute drug abuse emergencies. Academic
Press, New York.
addiction is permitted under strict legal limitations. Addicts must be notified by the physician to the Home Office and in the case of some opioids and cocaine, the physician requires a special licence. By such procedure it is hoped to limit the expansion of the illicit market, and its accompanying crime and dangers to health, e.g. from infected needles and syringes. The object is to sustain young (usually) addicts, who cannot be weaned from drug use, in reasonable health until they relinquish their dependence (often over about 10 years).
When injectable drugs are prescribed there is currently no way of assessing the truth of an addict's statement that he/she needs x mg of heroin (or other drug), and the dose has to be assessed intuitively by the doctor. This has resulted in addicts obtaining more than they need and selling it, sometimes to initiate new users. The use of oral methadone or other opioid for maintenance by prescription is devised to mitigate this problem.
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