Several participants spoke of the speed with which they, or people they knew, had started treatment (methadone / buprenorphine) since the outbreak – often taking just days to have a prescription in place when previously it could take weeks.
Well I’m on a script now … I’ve come, I’ve never had a script, it was heroin every day as you know, but now I’m on a script, it’s not heroin every day, it’s only heroin if I feel like treating myself. (M, 50)
Some participants were satisfied that they were still visiting the pharmacy daily and taking their medicine while they were there. Here was a feeling not only that this helped them to resist the temptation of taking larger or more frequent doses, but also that it helped them to resist the pressure to sell their medication on to people making offers outside the pharmacy.
I go every day, but I just take the bottle away with me, I get a wee measuring cup. I take half, I take half in the morning and take about, maybe about 7, 8 o’clock at night … It’s a bit of trust she’s gave me as well, you know, because I could just skelp the lot or save it up or whatever, but what’s the point in doing that … [Community Psychiatric Nurse] says to us … “if you’re going to your mum’s, just let us know, I’ll contact the pharmacy” … she kind of trusts me that way, do you know what I mean. And I wouldn’t break that trust. (M, 44)
Other participants were taking home their medication two or three times a week. However, this was not always due to their own preference, or something they were comfortable doing. One or two were particularly concerned about the temptation of taking medicine meant for a few days in one or two doses. One participant had requested to visit the pharmacist for pick ups more frequently, but had been denied.
We still have to go to the chemist every day, which is a bit of a nightmare, because I’ve got a wee 6 year old and he didn’t want to even be out, so it was hard, we did eventually, about a month after lockdown, we were told we can get it away with us daily, go down for it and get it away, but then some folk were talking the mick and they were either drinking it outside the chemist and throwing the bottles or someone was caught selling theirs, which messed it up, so we had to go back to our supervising on the premises again. (F, 43)
In-person visits with community practitioners are now rare. Most participants spoke of talking to their community psychiatric nurse (CPN) on the phone when their prescriptions needed to be altered, and some had not spoken to their CPN at all since the beginning of the pandemic safety measures.
Before the pandemic, I was on daily, daily supervised, right, when the pandemic started, right, my CPN started my prescription picking up twice weekly … Which I struggled with … some days I was swallowing the whole 4 days, and then just go to my bed … I asked my CPN if she could change it to 3 times weekly, and she actually turned round and said “they’re no altering any prescriptions while the pandemic is on” … which I thought was really out of order … you think they would accommodate that … (M, 42)
I’ve still no seen my care manager in the flesh, I’ve seen her on the computer, I’ve no seen her in the flesh, you know. (F, 39)