Advice for anyone on a methadone or buprenorphine prescription

Updated: 30 March 2020

If you live in Scotland, this information does not apply. The NHS manages all prescribing in Scotland. You should have received advice about your medication from your local NHS service. If not, please give your Change Grow Live service a ring and we can help you. You can find phone numbers for all our services using our ‘find a service’ page.

What’s happening to my prescription?

To help you stay safe, we are changing the way we prescribe medication-assisted treatment for a while. Over the next few days, our services will be making these changes to the way they prescribe medication: 

  • Most people who already take home medication will get a two-week supply.  
  • Most people who are on supervised consumption will move to unsupervised and will get a two-week take-home supply.   
  • We will look at your current situation, including your health and accommodation, and decide on the best option that will mean you can stay as safe as possible.    
  • We will send your prescription to your usual pharmacy. You should carry on going to the pharmacy as normal. The pharmacist will tell you when your medicine supply is changing. 
  • We plan to call you to tell you what’s happening. If you haven’t heard from us in the next few days, please give your service a call. 
  • If you can't collect your medicine or you're worried about it, please contact us and we will try to make arrangements to get your medicine to you. 

This is a change from what’s normal and you might be feeling scared, worried or confused. It’s OK to feel like that. We’re here to help, just give us a call or chat to our online team.

You can find numbers for all our services using our ‘find a service’ page.

Important advice for anyone taking medication home

  • It is very important you take just the dose you are prescribed for each day. Please measure your dose carefully. Your pharmacist can provide you with a dose cup. Don’t take more than you should as there is a risk you may overdose.
  • Don’t share your medication. If someone you know needs help, please tell them to get in touch. We will help them get onto treatment as quickly as possible.
  • Always keep your medication secure in the bottle with the child-proof cap. Lock it away if possible. Keep it in a high place, out of reach of other people, especially children. Do not keep it in easy-to-access places like the fridge.
  • Think about who you need to tell about your medication, so you can keep yourself and anyone at home safe.

Please have a chat with us if you have any worries at all. We’re here to help you stay safe. Click here to get advice from our online team.

Safe storage

It’s really important that you store your medication safely. It could cause serious harm or even be fatal if someone else takes it, especially children. If you don’t have a lockable storage box, please speak to anyone at your service and we can give you one.


Naloxone is an emergency medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose. It works on methadone and buprenorphine. Some of our services can give you nasal naloxone spray, especially if you’re worried about having children at home.

Please let us know if you don’t have a naloxone kit at home, or yours is damaged or out of date. You can read about naloxone and how to use it here.

What should I do if I need to self-isolate (stay at home or in accommodation)?

If you’re advised to self-isolate (but not treated in hospital), you need to nominate someone else to collect your prescription on your behalf. You will get a two-week supply of medication. Please give your pharmacy a call to let them know.

If you don’t have someone that can do this, where possible a member of our team will collect the medication and deliver it to you.

This page from the NHS explains what to do if you need someone else to collect your prescription.

Try and keep in touch with people as much as you can. Lots of people have been setting up WhatsApp groups to keep in contact, so it might be worth seeing if there’s one you could join. Also, try and do a bit of exercise each day - it can really help your mind.

What if I need more medication?

If you are taking the correct dose each day and you feel like you need a bigger dose, please speak to your worker or give your service a ring.

What will happen if I’m starting a new prescription?

If you’re starting or re-starting your journey with us, we will offer you a prescription for buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is a safer option than methadone for people who are starting a new prescription and can't visit the pharmacy regularly. The only exception to this is for women who are pregnant.

Most people will get a two-week take-home supply. We will look at your current situation, including your health and accommodation, and decide on the best option that will mean you can stay as safe as possible.  

What if I lose my medication or someone steals it?

We are hearing about some medication getting lost, stolen or sold. For safety reasons (and depending on the type of medication), we will not always be able to provide a replacement.

If you lose your medication or someone steals it, please speak to your worker or someone else at your service, and they will be able to help you.

If you are on methadone and you lose your medication or it's stolen (and we are able to give you replacement medication), we will offer you a new prescription on buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is less likely than methadone to harm people who aren't used to taking opioids. People are also less likely to steal or misuse it. 

What if I need a detox or dose reduction?

We have had to put detoxifications and dose reductions on hold for a while as we need to focus on keeping everyone safe and well.

If you need our support, we are still here for you.

I'm worried about travelling to pick up my medication or get equipment.

The team at Release has created 'essential journey' cards for you to use if you need to leave your accommodation to pick up medication or harm reduction equipment.

How will you support me?

We’ll keep in touch with you over the phone to make sure you’re getting along OK.