End of the line for methadone bus

Drop-In bus, photo: Czech Television

The Czech NGO Drop-In, which helps drug addicts fighting addiction, has cancelled a facility which had provided methadone for heroin users. The substance acts as a replacement for heroin, gradually reducing dependence. Drop-In had a centre on wheels – a bus – which provided the synthetic opiod for hundreds of users each day near Prague’s main station. But the project, only a month old, was opposed by Czech Railways as well as holders of the station’s lease.

Drop-In bus,  photo: Czech Television
The leading psychologist at Drop-In, Ivan Douda, said this:

“Unfortunately we had to cancel the bus because Grandi Stazioni maintained their interests had somehow been damaged. I don’t really understand it: it’s just the opposite, we attract those who otherwise might be shoplifting at the stations’ boutiques and draw them away.”

The cancellation of the service was welcomed by the lease owners, who maintained they had registered a rise in criminality at the site. Nevertheless, the problem remained: how to continue serving addicts in danger of slipping back into heroin use. At the last minute, Prague City Hall intervened, allowing a provisional site where Drop-In has until now offered a free needle exchange: an address in Prague on Karolína Světlá Street. There, methadone will now be offered daily.

For many, continuing of the service is of the utmost importance, which this user confirmed for Czech TV:

“I need this to work... all the time: as long as possible.”

Jiří Presl
Jiří Presl, the head doctor at the Drop-In Centre, meanwhile, said this:

“These are patients who have signed a medical contract and are required to undergo therapy. They will take methadone wherever they are told to do so, so the new location won’t be a problem.”

The provisional location won’t be operational for long, however: after December it will transfer to a permanent address, Prague’s Bulovka Hospital in Prague 7.