Your rights in treatment

Your relationship with your GP and pharmacist
A good relationship with your GP will pay dividends in terms of accessing drug treatment. A good doctor will keep an open dialogue, talking through all the options and coming to a decision together. If you are confident and calm in airing your point of view within an open and honest relationship with your doctor, you will have a much better chance of arriving at the right solutions for you. Remember, you can speak to your GP or clinic doctor in confidence.

Like your doctor, you may be interacting with your pharmacist for a long time, so it helps to keep a friendly and open relationship with them. Like doctors, pharmacists are bound to protect your privacy, so you can speak to them in confidence.

What the GP can prescribe to you
Any registered, practicing doctor in the UK can legally prescribe any medicine in the British National Formulary. Your doctor can, in theory, prescribe other medications that are not listed for this condition. However, the NHS will only reimburse the medication costs if they are prescribed for their licensed use, so if your doctor agrees to prescribe a different medication, you may need to pay for it.

It’s unfortunately true that if your GP doesn’t want to provide you with drug treatment they don’t have to, however they do have to refer you to someone who can help if they won’t.

What you can expect from a drug treatment service
You can expect your treatment service to treat you with respect and take your views fully into account when looking at treatment options.

They should:

  • Assess your need for treatment.
  • Work with you to prepare a care plan identifying your treatment needs and short-, medium- and long-term goals.
  • Provide you with advice and support on reducing the harm of your drug use – this should include helping you access clean injecting equipment if necessary.
  • Provide you with medical and some social support to help manage your addiction.
  • Offer you access to all the treatments recommended in the NICE guidelines – this should include detoxification, stabilisation and maintenance.
  • Enable you to access a Community Care Assessment (for access to residential rehabilitation).
  • Maintain your confidentiality unless they have a compelling reason not to. Reasons they can breach confidentiality would include where your behaviour was likely to put someone else – especially a child – in danger. If you have concerns about this ask for a copy of your services confidentiality policy and/or contact an advocacy group.

They should not:

  • Push you to accept a care plan that you are uncomfortable with.
  • Compel you to detox if you do not feel able to attempt it.
  • Refuse you services or treatment options that you reasonably should expect to be able to access.
  • Share information about you with anyone without your consent.

You should

  • Turn up for appointments on time or if you cannot, then let them know as far in advance as possible.
  • Be honest with your key worker and doctor – trust is an important part of getting the right treatment.
  • Treat staff with respect and courtesy. Sometimes people do get fed up or angry with their services, but shouting at staff or becoming aggressive isn’t helpful and it isn’t fair. Services will exclude you if you behave in ways that are not appropriate.
  • Be aware of the services available to you and discuss those you might like to try with your key worker/GP.
  • Ensure your care plan fulfils your goals.

You should not

  • Treat the service like some kind of state dealer. Treatment is for people who want help to manage their drug or alcohol problem.
  • Score or deal on the premises – and this means don’t even talk about it. People are there to get help, the last thing they want to do is overhear deals or witness transactions in the waiting room.
  • Just nod your way through sessions. You need to be active in your own care plan if you’re going to get the best out of it.