Of Chemists good and bad

felix's picture

I returned from twelve days in the Philippines yesterday morning. My plane landed at 4:12am, I was through customs at 4:45am, dropping off dad at 5:15, back at Highgate Hill and used gear by 6:05am.

I had a $75 shot to get started than a $45 an hour later. I was very trashed, so trashed I did not want to take my full methadone dose at my chemist (I had managed, during the previous twelve days of non use, to get my metro use down to just 10 or 15mg a day, and since I had used a lot of gear I did not want to top that off with my usual 17.5mg of metro).

Taking less than your prescribed dose is technically 'not allowed' it seems. I should chase up a copy of the guidelines for dispensing methadone, as over the years I've run into junkies who reckon they have had all manner of chemists, even chemists who let them take home their partner's dose, or skip a day's dose without penalty.

I believe I've had more negative experiences than positive ones - but quickly I point out my current chemist is great : he's professional, courteous, has never made a mistake with financial reckonings (some chemists have terrible record keeping and have required users to pay the same amount twice because they neglected to mark down that a week had been paid). In fact, I've been double-dosed once, accidentally (which I count as a positive, although he'd count it as a negative), and been given one extra takeaway dose on one occasion. For four years of dispensing at that chemist, 1400 or so doses, I think that's pretty decent.

But my first chemist, at Taringa on Moggill Road, was a different story. It was 16 years ago, and there had been a big uptake in using in Australia in that period. So chemists were just starting to deal with more and more junkies on a regular basis, so perhaps I can put his behaviour down to inexperience.

His policy was that we could not get dosed when there was any one else in the store who was not a junkie. When asked why, he explained it was so not to embarrass us. The things I had done as a junkie that led to me to accepting methadone as an alternative certainly meant that being publicly dosed was not the sort of thing that would cause embarrassment.

But apparently it was not for me to judge. He thought I should be embarrassed, and that was that. So I could turn up at 7:50am, ten minutes before he opened, and if someone turned up at 8:00 as he opened the door, and wanted to talk about haemorrhoid creams for thirty minutes, we would be getting dosed at 8:30am - still a twenty minute walk from my work where I was expected to start at 8:30am also.

But getting back to the issue yesterday - as I said, I had cut down my metro usage whilst overseas, and I was very stoned - I did not want to add to my opiated woes by pouring unneeded metro on top of gear. I tried to make my point to the lady dispensing the dose:

"Do I have to drink all this?"

"Oh don't worry dear, it's mostly water" she said, misinterpreting my concerns as to physical volume of liquid rather than dosage.

"No, I mean, do I have to take all the dose - if I do, I'll be really trashed" I said, thinking honesty sometimes is a good policy.

"You'll be what?" she replied, not understanding my slang for wasted/smashed.

"Trashed." I repeated, offering no more explanation. I was, actually, quite toasted, rather than trashed, but I thought the distinction would just confuse the issue.

So the lady went all read - she was being confronted by a real live junkie, who was admitting to having taken, gasp, gear!

She told me that I had to take the whole dose. I thought about being cheeky and spilling half down my front - I know from experience that when the shoe is on the other foot and you lose a dose, you never get the lost amount replaced. But luckily I pressed my previous argument, and she relented.

She sneaked the half drunk little plastic cup away, past the pharmacist who had heard every word, and I kept breathing the rest of that day. Not that half a dose would have killed me, but shouldn't an opiate addict expressing a desire to minimise intake of opiates be listened to?

It worked brilliantly for me overseas, being able to temper my dose to requirements, in twelve days I went from a century a day habit and anywhere from 17.5-50mgs of metro per day, to just 10-15mg.
If anyone has any ideas on how to effect such change, I'd be glad to hear em...


sayarsan's picture

There is a Poisons Schedule with opiates in the most restricted category. The drug must be prescribed by a doctor and administered by a qualified practitioner. Allowing a pharmacy assistant to administer the dose sounds to me like negligence, something akin to an enrolled nurse doing it instead of a registered nurse in a hospital ward, a nono. Any alteration in the drug; the dose; the route of administration; and strictly speaking the time of administration must be authorized by the physician. Rules it seems are made to be broken. Just see how effective a 'Work To Rule' tactic can be in a Union dispute. Things run more smoothly when there is some leeway but imagine if someone on 10mg of metro was mistakenly given 100mg. If the dose was administered by a pharmacy assistant it would be the dispensing chemist whose career would go down the drain although it wouldn't be surprising if the assistant was punished for overstepping their authority regardless of whether they really had much choice in the matter.
The nature of the 'program' as it's called is to control the behaviour of the client and this precludes any input from the client other than what they do at the doctor's consultation. There is no logic in the notion that a drug addict, which is what you must be to get on the program, having any control over administration of the drug. From the logic of the program asking for a smaller dose one day is identical to asking for a larger dose. A purported aid in dealing with the problems inherent in prohibition can only lead to more of the lies, deceit and ridiculous assumptions that prohibition depends on.