More help urged for prescription drug addicts

Date published: 10 March 2011

More must be done to stop addiction to prescription drugs before it becomes a dependency, the Prime Minister has warned.

David Cameron said health reforms announced by the Government would address the problem which currently focuses on dealing with the addiction, rather than the root cause.

Speaking in Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday, Middleton and Heywood MP Jim Dobbin told MPs of the plight of more than 1.5 million people across the UK who suffer from involuntary tranquilliser addiction.

Mr Dobbin, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction, said: “This is not the use of drugs by an individual but by prescription drugs and it has horrendous side-effects.

“Will the Prime Minister reassure me that special withdrawal programmes are set up across the country to give these people their lives back?

“I understand the Government is reviewing the situation but it keeps getting put back and back and these people are victims of the system and they are suffering all the time.”

Oldham campaigner Barry Haslam, from Uppermill, stepped down last year as the North-West regional co-ordinator of the group as he felt the Government was trying to link involuntary sufferers to voluntary addicts.

Mr Haslam became a campaigner after weaning himself off Ativan after a 10-year addiction, and successfully campaigned for an Oldham withdrawal service, paid for by the primary care trust.

Last year Mr Haslam uncovered information which showed between 1967 and 1978 the number of long-term repeat prescriptions for benzodiazepines doubled every year and 50 per cent were given without a consultation.