Provide Tapering Strips for People Who Want to Withdraw Safely from Psychotropic Drugs

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Provide Tapering Strips through the NHS to help users who want to stop taking prescription drugs for anxiety & depression (antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and opioids).

Psychotropic prescription drugs can be very difficult for some people to stop taking because they can lead to dependence. Some users experience difficulties stopping or reducing their drugs even with the support of doctors and psychiatrists. Research indicates that around 50% of users will experience significant withdrawal effects, yet this is little recognised by doctors. Recently, the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has accepted this is a problem with antidepressant drugs.

Because stopping or reducing these drugs is so difficult, many people feel trapped into taking these tablets for many years, giving them side effects and costing the NHS money in providing unnecessary prescriptions. In 2018 the NHS spent £202 million just on antidepressants.

Many of these drugs cause a physical dependence and the best way to avoid any unpleasant symptoms is to reduce the dosage slowly over an extended period (sometimes many months or even years). This approach is widely recommended yet remains practically impossible for most people.

Providing a safe method by which people can gradually reduce their psychoactive prescription medications helps patients and helps doctors too.

A Dutch research team from the User Research Centre of Maastricht University, led by Dr Peter Groot and working with the not-for-profit Cinderella Therapeutics foundation have created the solution that this petition is calling for. Over 2,000 people have already been helped to come off their drugs safely.  In a recent study, 71% were successful in stopping the drugs using tapering strips. 

More details are available on this website: www.taperingstrip.org

What we request

We want the UK medical authorities to trial and implement Tapering Strips which provide the most commonly prescribed medications in decreasing doses over a period of time. 

We need Tapering Strips to help the millions of users of psychoactive prescription drugs because:

  • Many tablets are only available in increments that are so large that they are useless for gradual lowering (tapering) of the dose. 
  • Pill cutting is, at best, a hit and miss affair and can lead to withdrawal effects.
  • Liquid forms for some medications are available but tend to be hugely expensive and therefore the NHS will not provide them.

 What are the benefits?

  • Tapering Strips could potentially save a significant amount of time for General Practitioners, Psychiatrists and Community Mental Health teams.
  • They would help users of psychiatric medications stop taking them safely and in a controlled way.
  • The doctor's time and focus could shift to recovery, rather than the treatment.

This solution exists and has already helped over 2,000 Dutch patients. We should adopt this approach UK wide and learn all we can from the Dutch researchers leading the study. This is vital work, and the solution is elegant and brilliantly simple.

For more information visit: www.taperingstrip.org