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New Methadone Protocol Sparks Controversy for Teen Drug Rehab



New Methadone Protocol Sparks Controversy for Teen Drug Rehab
Image source: Defi Media

Due to the increasing problem of drug addiction among young people, the Department of Health has decided to revise its protocol for distributing methadone. This substitution product is now available from the age of 15 for drug users who want to get clean.

“Offering methadone from the age of 15 to those under the influence of drugs is not a good approach. It is better to place them in a rehabilitation center and offer them other programs to facilitate their reintegration into society,” said a psychiatrist in response to the change in the methadone distribution protocol, which is now available to drug users from the age of 15 instead of 18.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he pointed out that although methadone is a substitution product used in the rehabilitation of drug users, it has a strong level of addiction similar to heroin.

At the age of 15, an adolescent’s brain is still “tender” and does not need this kind of product to break free from drug addiction, he insisted. “It is better to offer them psychological and psychosocial support,” he said.

This opinion is also shared by Dr Siddick Maudarbocus, director of Les Mariannes, a center for addictions and mental health. While this measure may be justified in some cases, it should be limited in time, unlike what is done with adults.

“Even though methadone can prevent access to illegal drugs and committing theft or violence to obtain money to buy drugs, the substitution program should not be extended over a long period,” said Dr Maudarbocus.

According to him, after a year or two, the adolescent should be weaned off and continue their rehabilitation and reintegration program without any substances. They should then benefit from a support and mentoring program by revising their lifestyle.

Introduced in Mauritius since 2015, the methadone maintenance therapy program has helped a number of drug users get clean. However, this program has also sparked controversy due to the gatherings it caused outside various distribution centers.

After police interventions, methadone distribution should take place in certain dispensaries or at home in some cases. According to the psychiatrist, methadone should be distributed in specialized centers and be accompanied by psychosocial support.

According to information we have gathered, this new protocol for distributing methadone from the age of 15 is said to have come from a health ministry official who was prominent during the COVID-19 period but was later removed. His proposal is causing a stir as it may not be suitable for the Mauritian context, we have been told.

Source: Defi Media

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