How Does Prescribing Work?

DOCTOR ELEPHANTHow Does Prescribing Work?How will I know if I need a prescription because of my substance use?
Most drugs, cocaine and cannabis being examples, do not require prescribed medication in order to stop using them safely. However, some substances such as heroin, alcohol or GHB may require a prescribed drug in order for you to begin your treatment journey.

So what exactly happens?
When you first access a service you will be given an appointment with a keyworker who will do an assessment with you. A part of the assessment will look in detail at your substance use. If your keyworker believes you might be physically addicted to a substance, they will arrange for you to see a doctor as quickly as can be arranged.

Does the Doctor prescribe straight away?
First of all they will take a detailed look at your physical and mental health as well as your substance use, before deciding what medication you may need to be prescribed. For heroin addiction it is extremely likely they will prescribe there and then.

Do you always get prescribed on the same day?
As with so much else in the treatment field it depends on the substance, your circumstances and the element of risk to yourself. GHB, if being used regularly and on a daily basis may well require immediate help. With alcohol it is likely you will be asked to reduce your drinking a little while preparing to switch to the prescribed medication and this might well take a longer period of time. What it is important to remember is that you will receive the appropriate prescribed medication as soon as is possible in order to take the first step toward dealing with your problem.

What happens next if the Doctor decided I need to be prescribed medication to help me with my addiction?
You will be ‘titrated’. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? It means that you will be prescribed a dose of the appropriate medication, methadone for instance, and be asked to come and see a doctor or nurse the next day. They will want to know how you feel. Are you withdrawing for instance? Was the dose too high or too low? Were you able to sleep? Your medication may well be adjusted until the correct dose is reached and you feel comfortable.

Does that mean I have to pick up my medication every day from the nurse at my treatment provider?
Only while your dosage is being worked out. After that people usually receive a prescription that allows them to pick up their medication from a chemist near to their home.

Do I still have to pick it up every day?
Probably to begin with, but there are a variety of arrangements that can be made with the agency or doctor prescribing for you. Working and family arrangements are taken into account, as is your substance use.

What do you mean my substance use?
Well let’s be honest. Some people continue to use substances every though they are being prescribed. Where this is the case, they might well be required to continue picking up on a daily basis because of the overdose risk for instance. On the other hand, you might find that the medication is helping you to deal with your problems, and it is possible for you to pick up once or twice a week.