Treatment for heroin users is often motivated by ideology, politics and the economic climate of the time. Between 2008 and 2015, a battle has occurred in England and Scotland about ‘recovery-orientated drug treatment’ and the purpose of opioid substitution treatment (OST) for heroin users. Some politicians called for a time-limiting of OST, citing poor outcomes and variation in the quality of OST. However, the confounding context of financial cuts framed under ‘austerity’ has taking this situation deeper into shark, or politician – infested waters. This presentation discusses this period of acute conflict and change in the zeitgeist in OST – with its arguably positive aspects and significant risks.