The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue February 2012
There is a clear manipulation of the extent of prescription drug abuse within the prison estate, and one has to ask ‘Why hide the problem?’ I broke my back in a major car crash 15 years ago and I’m forced to take high strength opiate pain-killers just to be able to move. Yet I’m forced to queue and have my oral cavity probed every day to ‘prove’ I’ve taken my medication thanks to the large number of prisoners telling CARATS they are clean whilst at the same time selling their medication (which is usually Tremadol).
The first question that has to be asked is why the MoJ, in conjunction with local PCTs, switched vast amounts of prisoners from co-codamol/DHCs, etc, which would show up on Mandatory Drug Tests, to Tremadol, a drug which does not show up on MDTs? I suspect this is nothing more than a manipulation of the figures and a clear denial of a problem that has direct links to the reoffending rates. A recent Freedom of Information requested revealed that in a 4 year period (2004-8) no ‘street’ drugs at all were seized at HMP Albany! But in that same period the queue for IDTs (Methadone) grew and grew.
In both HMP Albany and HMP Bure you can clearly see prisoners ‘whacked’ out of their minds and who never get robustly challenged by staff as long as they do not cause a problem. Because of my chronic back problem I avoid the gym due to the fear of causing myself more damage, but every day in the meds queue I have to listen to guys who are queuing for pain-killers for their back problems boasting about how much they can bench-press in the gym. If someone complains that their pain is so bad they need opiates then I suggest they should be barred from the gym as a minimum requirement. Along with that, a system-wide switch to liquid painkillers would cut the dealing overnight – instead of trying to hide the problem.
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