The NHS must provide more support for people trying to break their addiction to antidepressants such as benzodiazepines, according to the Earl of Sandwich.
During a Lords debate on a Health Department review of addiction to medicines, he revealed that one of his own relatives is addicted to the drug.
Calling for a “proper NHS network of support”, he said: “There are something like 1.5 million people addicted in the UK to prescribed drugs.
“A member of my own family is confined to his room. He is trying to withdraw from one of these drugs. He can’t work, he can’t take the children to school.
“There is no government benefit or assistance for people in this situation.”
Baroness Thornton said the Health Department is undertaking a review of addiction to medicines which is expected to report next year.
“There are support areas available in some areas of the country,” she said. “They have had a very good success rate in helping people withdraw from medicines to which they have become inadvertently addicted.
“But we recognise the availability of these services is variable and patchy.”
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“Yes, I live in Wales and Edwina Hart refuses to see there is a problem” – Jennifer Robinson, Cardiff
“This is an epidemic, benzodiazepines have a worse withdrawal syndrome than heroin and in 15% of users a protracted withdrawal can develop and it is a living hell, especially with no support, most of the time the patient will return to the doctors and be diagnosed with a disorder which they haven’t got, because GPs don’t understand benzodiazepine withdrawal, and the patient is put onto a cocktail of pills and into a downward spiral. This happened to me and it cost my family over £20,000 to go to a rehab facility which almost killed me because again they have no clue on how to come off this drug, on top of it all we couldn’t claim back the money because I was just passed off as a drug addict, it’s disgusting! It very nearly cost me my life and I was told it was my own fault even though I trusted my doctor that these pills would help me. Finally benzodiazepines have killed more people than every class A drug put together since the early 90s a study has shown, there is help on the ground for anyone going through this, battle against tranquillisers and bristol and district tranquilliser helpline are two of them. The goverment need to do something and they need to do it fast” – Peter, Wales
“I agree with Sandwich. Benzodiazepines are not antidepressants they are tranquillisers. They are a CNS depressant and contra-indicated for depression. Baroness Thornton didn’t seem to know the difference either” – Michael Behan, APPGITA ,House of Commons