I have been working in the Drugs Aids Service for seven years and I can safely say there is never a dull moment. It can be really good to see a client improve both health wise and in their day to day life. It is also sad to see them go downhill and on occasion we do lose some of our clients through Overdose, Liver Failure and even Suicide.
We usually see between 100 -150 people per day. Some unstable clients are on Daily Dispensing, whereas the more stable people are on ‘Take-Aways’ and only have to attend once, twice or three times a week. The average dose of Methadone is 80mls, 1mg/ml. Most of our clients are on other medication including Benzodiazapines, Sleeping Tablets, Anti-depressants, and Anti-psychotics. We also dispense quite a few Anti-Biotics, mainly due to abscesses caused by injecting and chest infections.
A few of our Clients are on H.I.V. Anti- retrovirals, which we get from Beaumont Hospital and dispense to them from our Pharmacy. People on this Triple Therapy usually need increased doses of Methadone, as the effectiveness of the dose is lessened by the Anti-retrovirals.
We are a multi-disciplinary team, made up from Doctors, Nurses, Counsellors, General Assistants (G.A.s -who take Urines for Urinalysis and keep order in the Clinic), A Welfare Officer and Outreach Workers who do needle exchange and interact with Clients outside the Clinic and try to bring in new Clients. The Clients and Staff are all inoculated against Hep B, which is very important.
Alcohol can be a big problem for a lot of our Clients and we have a policy of breathalysing them. Depending on the reading their dose can be halved or not given at all, due to possible interaction between the Alcohol and Methadone. If no dose is given, no TAS (Take Aways) or tablets are given. In the event that someone misses two consecutive days their dose is usually halved, as their tolerance to Methadone would be reduced.
We provide a Ten Day Lofexadine Detox `to help Clients who have come off Methadone to control the withdrawal symptoms. BP is controlled throughout the Detox as Lofexadine can lower BP. Counselling is provided during the programme.
In conclusion, despite the potential volatility within the group, when everyone treats each other with a mutual respect everything runs with little trouble. I personally feel we provide a critical service to the community.
(Pharmaceutical Technician Drugs Aids Service)