‘Horse trading’: prescribing injectable opiates to opiate addicts. A descriptive study

Malcolm Battersby, Michael Farrell, Michael Gossop, Phillip Robson, John Strang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The clinical audit of 40 opiate‐dependent individuals who were prescribed injectable drugs (heroin or methadone) between June 1987 and June 1989 is described. These subjects were characterized by the chronicity of their injecting and dependent opiate use, and by their refusal to comply with a treatment programme involving oral‐only prescribing. The key aim was to attract entrenched injectors into contact with treatment services and to promote movement away from injecting drug use and reduce HIV risk behaviour. On review 35 of the original 40 were either still receiving an injectable prescription or injecting illicit drugs. Despite this 14 (35%) were rated as making positive life changes. Nine (22.5%) had been admitted to the in‐patient unit and became drug free during their stay. The stability of the lives of eight (20%) had deteriorated. The benefits and drawbacks of this form of intervention are discussed with comparison to the other studies of injectable drug prescribing. 1992 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • heroin
  • injectable
  • methadone
  • prescribing


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