Case study: Barriers to healthcare [Addiction]
Transcribed from sound recording
Can you explain what stops you going to hospital to seek treatment?
Basically, I’m still abusing drugs, and they won’t help me, as soon as they know I’m rattling they won’t give me anything to help me out, so I sign myself out and come home
OK, so you won’t go to the hospital because you’re rattling, I know that you recently went to the hospital to seek treatment, what finally pushed you to get medical help, what happened?
My health was deteriorating, yea, more and more wasn’t it, I needed hospital treatment, so I had to go up there, but then I had to lie and say I’m an ex user, I’m not using still. After five days, after they’ve read my file, they came to me asking if I was using, I said I was an ex user and I’m not using, only a bit of weed and drink. Can you detox off the drink they said to me, no I said, I’ve done it now, I’ve been in 5 days, yea, they said OK, the morphine injections that you’re on, for your leg, this time, this will help you (an alternative pain killer?) help me with what? But what about the pain? She said, “and if you are detoxing”, I said I’m not detoxing, yea, I had to lie or they would have stopped the morphine injections because they thought I was asking for the morphine because I was detoxing, not because of the pain, honest to god
I know that you’ve said to me in the past that as an active drug user they treat you differently, do you want to explain to me how they treat you differently when you go to hospital?
Basically I’ve got hep C as well, which is obviously a blood disease yea, as soon as they know that I’m a user, they treat me as if I’ve got the plague, know what I mean, and they make it obvious if I’m on a ward, I’ll give you an example – 4 men on a ward, they’ll come to any of those men and put a cannula in their arm without wearing gloves, they’ll make an issue, “oh we’ve got put gloves on”, there’s three other men listening to that conversation as well, you know what I mean, that’s why nobody speaks to me on the bay, I’m a druggy, so I’m labelled, in more ways than one. All because of. . . I know that drugs are bad . . . but I can change
Yea, so you feel that when you go to hospital you’re stigmatised because of your past behaviour and having a blood borne virus, and everyone on the ward knows and you’re treated differently?
It’s a fact, you are treated differently
So how do you think the hospital could do things better for you? What improvements would you suggest to them?
I think that the hospital is there, yea, they should be there to help you, you’re the patient and they’re doing a job, so even if you had your leg amputated and you were detoxing off drugs, they’ve still got to give you something, that morphine injection, there’s a guy up there who’s had two legs off, he was on 100 (ml of methadone), I won’t mention his name, they stopped his (morphine) because they found out he was using before he went in to have his leg off, and that’s what caused him to have his leg off. So now he’s on codeine and paracetamol yea, and he’s had his two legs amputated? So as soon as they know that you’re still using, and if you haven’t had a blood test in the first 24 hours of going in there. . . you have to refuse it if you want any pain relief. They come back after a few days, “positive for opiates” [sighs]
Do you think it would be better, say if you were in hospital for a day, two days, that they give you a prescription for methadone or Subutex?
No, because in A&E yea, that’s probably two days already, and A&E won’t do anything, they just treat you for what you’re going in for.
And then when you’re in A&E you’re rattling, and struggling to stay there?
So, they put you on a bed, and push you in the corridor, and leave you there, until there’s a bed, and every time I’ve been in in the last six months they’ve put me in a corridor and there hasn’t been a bed for a good 24 hours
And you’re rattling that entire time?
After 24 hours, with no pain relief, because I refused the blood test, so they can refuse the medication, yea, after 12 hours I’m rattling, so I get off the bed and sign myself out. I know I shouldn’t. . . but, it’s a horrible addiction