Methadone, the legal substance prescribed to treat drug addicts, has been linked to more deaths than heroin in the Lothian region of Scotland.
Recent statistics from the General Register Office of Scotland revealed that in 2007 there were 22 methadone-related deaths in Lothian, compared with 20 associated with heroin, although across the whole country the figures were 114 and 289 respectively.
The figures are likely to add to mounting concerns surrounding the use of methadone, which many claim is failing to tackle addiction.
The same statistics revealed that the overall number of drug-related deaths in Scotland had almost doubled in a decade, from 224 in 1997 to 455 in 2007.
Earlier this year, the Scottish government announced that it would shift its focus away from methadone treatment and towards “recovery and helping people live drug-free lives”.
It is estimated that 22,000 drug addicts are registered in Scotland’s methadone treatment programme.
Commenting at the time of the policy shift, Prof McKeganey of Glasgow University’s Centre for Drug Misuse Research said: “I think far too much [money] is being absorbed by the methadone programme.
“I think we need to refocus where that money is spent. We need to massively increase the availability of residential rehabilitation… at the moment our treatment centres are log-jammed.”