ADDICTION TO PRESCRIBED DRUGS:
SURVEY INDICATES ONLY FIVE AREAS PROVIDE HELP
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction has published a survey on the number of services which can detox patients from such addiction – the lack of which contradicts National Treatment Agency claims.
Download AddictionToday137-Benzo statistics x3
June saw publication of the Survey of Primary Care Trusts in England recording provision of services for involuntary tranquilliser addiction by John Perrott, under the aegis of the APPGITA which is chaired by Jim Dobbin MP. Perrott’s motivation was that “ministers in the Department of Health asserted that there are services for involuntary tranquilliser addiction in most areas in England” – but his experience and that of the APPGITA was that this was incorrect.
The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse 2011 review of Addiction to Medicines states on page 16 that “94% of those partnerships who responded positively to the questionnaire reported that there was local service provision in place for those that reported problems in relation to POM/OTC [prescription-only and over-the-counter]medicines”. The partnerships were defined in the review as Drug and Alcohol Teams, services provided in PCTs.
Perrott conducted his survey by sending a questionnaire to 149 PCTs to verify the statement in the NTA review, as follows:
“Please can you tell me what services your PCT/CCG provides for patients dependent on prescribed-only benzodiazepine and Z drug tranquillisers and sleeping tablets and who do not abuse these or other substances. Please include details of the availability of withdrawal advice and support.”
This survey was conducted in April-May 2012. The responses Perrott received are below:
5 PCTs Yes, do provide such services
81 PCTs No services
10 PCTs Partial services (very limited provision)
23 PCTs Escalated to Freedom of Information status; response outstanding when going to press
30 PCTs No reply.
John Perrott is an ‘expert patient’ and a member of APPGITA. You can contact him via the Office of Jim Dobbin MP at the House of Commons: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BENZOS, Z DRUGS PRESCRIBED IN 2011
The number of benzodiazepine prescription items written in the UK and dispensed in the community in England in each quarter of 2011:
Quarter Prescription items
These medicines include Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride, Alprazolam, Clobazam, Clonazepam, Diazepam, Flurazepam Hydrochloride, Loprazolam Mesilate, Lorazepam, Lormetazepam, Midazolam Hydrochloride, Midazolam Maleate, Nitrazepam, Oxazepam, Temazepam.
Source for both: Prescription Cost Analysis system.
The figures were supplied by Simon Burns on behalf of the health secretary in response to a parliamentary question by Jim Dobbin MP (Hansard 16 May 106553, col 155W).
ONLY 305 BENZO DEPENDENTS LEFT TREATMENT SUCCESSFULLY IN 2011
In response to a Freedom of Information request from pioneer Barry Haslam of Oldham Tranx, the NTA stated that only 1,155 patients were totally withdrawn from their drugs in 2010-11. Of these, only 305 or 26.4% were recorded as leaving treatment “completed”.
When asked for names and contact details of the service providers, as a useful resource, the NTA wrote that “Owing to the small numbers of patients in these services it is not possible to release details without risking patient identification”.
WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
In his role as vice-chair of the Public Health Committee of the Council of Europe, Dobbin announced a European benzodiazepine enquiry as part of its 2013 programme – he did this when public-health minister Anne Milton visited Addiction Dependency Solutions and Oldham Tranx in June.
“We are the voluntary sector backing up NHS Oldham, with one voice for all who need help,” Barry Haslam (centre of photo) explained to Milton (left, with Debbie Abrahams MP right). He added that she was “the first Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health to have the courage and NHS expertise to seek a solution to this decades-old problem of prescribed drug addiction. With over 1million long-term prescribed benzo and Z-drug addicts, this issue needs to be met full on”.