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Prescribed drug dependence needs to be recognised

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In Scotland, over 800,000 patients were prescribed an anti-depressant in 2014/15 and around 350,000 people were prescribed sleeping pills or tranquillisers. The risk of dependence for tranquillisers (benzodiazepines) such as valium has been known about for decades (see video) yet few services exist to support those patients coming off these drugs.  Services for illegal drug addicts are quite simply inappropriate.  Many patients also suffer withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking anti-depressants.  Withdrawal symptoms are often misdiagnosed and more drugs are prescribed which only makes matters worse.   Older patients are being advised to stop taking benzodiazepines by their GPs because of the increased risk of falls, premature death and Alzheimer's.  Some will have taken the drugs for decades.

It is now known that anti-depressants are less effective than was first thought.  50-65% of patiets are likely to benefit compared to 25-30% given a placebo drug or dummy pill.  So 25-35% are thought to derive some real benefit.  (Royal College of Psychiatrists)  However, the implications of taking these drugs over a long period of time are unknown and they may be doing more harm than good.  The increasing numbers of patients on long-term disability benefits for mental health conditions suggests that drug therapy is not helping people to recover. 

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines and antidepressants can be severe.  It can last for months or years and some are left permanently disabled.  Please watch the video or read the personal stories on our campaign website

Little support is available, doctors do not recognise the symptoms, they misdiagnose and often prescribe more pills, and the merry-go-round continues.  Sufferers have to turn to the internet for support and information. /

An All Party Parliamentary Group in the House of Commons is currently pressing for action in NHS England.

Action also needs to be taken in Scotland.  Little or no action has been taken in the UK over the past 30 years.   

Fiona French, Aberdeen & Ann Kelly, Helensburgh

Both severely disabled after protracted withdrawal of several years.




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