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Call for action on prescription drug abuse

January 6, 2014
Recently, there were reports that the Commons Home Affairs Committee of MPs were calling for action from GPs to take steps against prescription drug abuse. It is estimated that up to 1.5 million people have an addiction to prescription drugs. However, the official figures are considered to be inadequate and MPs want GPs to gather anonymous data on patients they suspect may be addicted. This will help provide better information on how to quantify the problem and enable officials to construct more efficient methods on how to combat the problem.

Another problem is what is known as “doctor shopping”, which the committee wants action to take place. This occurs when a patient will register with several surgeries, sometimes as a temporary patient, and visiting all of them to obtain more drugs. They also want medical professionals who supply prescription drugs when not necessary to face prosecution.

Addiction to prescription drugs is a particular problem for many victims, as many are unaware of the risks of abusing the medication. In fact, many will assume they are safe as they have been prescribed by a qualified doctor. Yet prescription drug addiction is on the rise although it is unknown how widespread the problem is.

So why do people get addicted to prescription drugs? The easy availability makes them a risk as there will always be a steady supply.  The most commonly addictive prescription drugs are painkillers. This is because they are opiods, part of the same family as heroin. Repeated use will result in the release of dopamine, which triggers the sensation of pleasure in the brain. However, some people will become dependent on the opiods to feel good. Those who develop an addiction to these drugs will exhibit symptoms that are consistent with other drug addictions, such as neglecting responsibilities, performing poorly in work and ignoring family and friends. More dangerously, opiods can be difficult to predict, most people have no ill effects from taking them. However, for those who do develop an addiction, the consequences can be severe.

There can also be ill-effects associated with anti-depressants. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, they are not addictive in the same was as tranquilisers or alcohol. However, some users can experience withdrawal symptoms.

In response to the the Commons Home Affairs Committee of MPs, the British Medical Association's (BMA) GP committee has defended the actions of GPs and described prescription drug addiction as a “complex issue”. Most people take their medication for a good reason and should not cease taking it. They say that identification of those who are addicted to prescription drugs is not straightforward and that patients should feel confident that their personal data should remain secure.

If you suspect that you have developed a dependency to prescription drugs, you should visit your GP for advice. Here at Cassiobury Court, we also provide rehabilitation programmes for prescription drugs. Call us on 0800 500 3129 for more information.
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