Getting a script for a heroin substitute

Getting a script - what you need to know

If you’re using heroin or another street opiate and want to go onto a script (prescription), we’ll help you get one as quickly and safely as possible.

How long does it take to get a script?

You won’t usually be able to get a script on the day you request one though.

It can take about two weeks to organise a script for a heroin substitute like methadone or buprenorphine for you.

This is because we need to do some tests and check your medical history first so we can get you onto a script safely.

If you get a script from a drug and alcohol service like With You, you’ll need to have an assessment as well.

What's an assessment?

An assessment is a get-to-know-you conversation between you and one of the team at your local service.

Everyone who registers with our services has one.

The assessment helps us understand why you have visited us and what your goals are.

The person who writes your script needs this information before they can give you a script.

It’s important to avoid other (non-prescribed) sedatives like benzos or alcohol when you start taking a heroin substitute because these can increase your risk of overdose.

We’ll ask you for a urine test

You’ll need to do at least one urine or saliva test before you see the person who writes the script for you (prescriber).

These tests are to find out what drugs you’re taking. It’s difficult to know without the tests because street drugs are often cut with other stuff.

We’ll ask your GP about your health

For your safety it’s important that your prescriber knows:

  • about any health problems you have
  • how much alcohol you drink and any other drugs you’re taking, including prescribed and over-the-counter drugs
  • whether you’ve come off heroin or overdosed before

This helps them prescribe the right substitute at the right dose for you.

You’ll need to choose a pharmacy

Your prescriber will give you your first script.

You’ll need to choose a pharmacy to take all your scripts to.

You’ll usually go to the pharmacy every day and take your substitute there to begin with. Talk to your prescriber if this is going to be difficult for you.

It can take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks to build up to the right dose for you. It depends on your health and what type of substitute you're prescribed.

You’ll need to carry on doing urine tests for a while

You’ll usually do urine tests every few weeks at your GP surgery or the drug and alcohol service.

These are to check for heroin, heroin substitute and any other drugs in your body.

Once you’ve had three tests clear of heroin, you can start to take some doses of your substitute at home instead of in the pharmacy.

We'll support you while you get used to your script

Your prescriber and drugs worker will help you get off heroin and onto a substitute as safely and comfortably as possible.

Find support

Looking for support with drugs?

Contact one of our 80 local services across England and Scotland for free, confidential support and advice.

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