Tag Archives: Benzo’s

Positive response from Welsh Gov to the issues of dependency with prescribed medication

Welsh Government have accepted nine out of ten of the recommendations brought forward by Stevie Lewis’s petition.

It is important we distinguish between substance misuse, as the harmful use of substances such as drugs and alcohol; and dependence arising from the therapeutic use of medicines whether they are prescribed or purchased.

This paragraph is so important – to distinguish between misuse and inadvertent dependency.

We commend Welsh Gov for it’s deliberation and thoughtful response to this petition

Petitioner Stevie Lewis
Prescribed Medication Petitioner

We have accepted nine of the ten recommendations set out in the report and a Government response to each is annexed to this letter for the Committee’s consideration.

The Summary

Recommendation 1.
Greater recognition should be given to prescription drug dependence at a national level in both policy and strategy, including within the next Substance Misuse Action Plan and the Substance Misuse Treatment Framework. This should include a clearer distinction between substance misuse and prescription drug dependence, and identification of specific actions to help prevent dependence upon prescription medications and support people affected.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 2.
The Welsh Government should confirm and explain its position on whether SSRI and SNRI antidepressants should be formally recognised as potentially leading to problems of dependence and withdrawal.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 3.
The Welsh Government should restate and emphasise antidepressants should not be routinely prescribed for mild depression in guidance to healthcare professionals, and should provide assurances that sufficient alternative treatment options, such as psychological therapies, are available across Wales.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 4.
The Welsh Government should ensure that additional guidance is produced and promoted in relation to safe tapering of prescription medications, both for patients and health professionals.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 5.
The Welsh Government should provide an update on the actions carried out in response to Recommendation 8 of the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry into Alcohol and Substance Misuse published in August 2015.

(This was not a matter brought up in the initial petition and has a different pinciple. ed AJ)

Recommendation 6.
The Welsh Government should determine whether SSRI and SNRI antidepressants should be added to the list of drugs targeted for reduction, and should introduce a national prescribing indicator to support closer monitoring of prescribing volumes and patterns across Wales. This indictor should be used to identify areas where further investigation or intervention may be required.
Response: Reject

(comment – Saddened this wasn’t accepted as it would be a huge leap to monitor how much and for how long SSRI and SNRI’s are prescribed for and therefore have foresight into how many patients will struggle and be affected by their withdrawal. Gov could then plan a coherent strategy in knowledge of how many will require assistance going forward. ed AJ)

Recommendation 7.
The Welsh Government should investigate, as a priority, the potential for a national rollout of a service based upon the Prescribed Medication Support Service operating within Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, in order to ensure that specific advice and support is available for people who require assistance with prescription medication.
Response: Accept in principle

Recommendation 8.
The Welsh Government should create opportunities for a coordinated strategy and greater information-sharing between health boards in relation to prescribed drug dependence, with a view to improved sharing of best practice and to ensure equity of services and support to patients.
Response: Accept

Recommendation 9.
NHS Wales should make better use of the expertise of pharmacists to support evidence-based prescribing, patient monitoring including regular patient reviews, and increased provision of help with tapering and withdrawing from medication.
Response: Accept


Recommendation 10.
The Welsh Government should conduct and publish an assessment of the sufficiency of the advice available to people experiencing prescription drug dependence and withdrawal through the DAN24/7 helpline, including the adequacy of training for operators. The Welsh Government should ensure that the availability of advice related to prescribed drug dependence is promoted appropriately.
Response: Accept

For access to the full petition and its history
http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=19952

https://past.wales/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Government-Response-to-Committee-Report.pdf

Valium: What is it used for and why are people buying it on the street?

Harriet Williamson Wednesday 19 Sep 2018 8:12 am Last November, Christina Craig died after taking a fake Valium pill. The tablets were known as ‘Blue Plague’. She was the fourth in a group of six friends in Glasgow to lose her life to what she believed to be Valium.

Scottish police estimate that there could be millions of fake Valium pills on the streets. Why is there a thriving market for the drug? Why aren’t users getting it on prescription?

Valium, also known as Diazepam, is part of a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It’s a sedative recommended for short-term treatment only because it can quickly become addictive.

Valium isn’t usually prescribed for longer than two to four weeks at a time, and some GPs are uncomfortable prescribing it at all. The NHS lists the side effects of benzodiazepines as including drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, vertigo, low sex drive, headaches and the development of a tremor.

After four weeks of use, benzodiazepines may start to lose their efficiency, meaning that you need a higher dose to get the same effect. The way Valium loses potency and the potential for addiction are two reasons why GPs don’t regularly prescribe the drug for long-term conditions like anxiety, as they did when it was first released. Valium was created by Leo Sternbach and released in 1963. It became one of the most frequently prescribed medications in the world, and between 1968 and 1982, it was the highest selling medication in the US. More than two billion tablets were sold in 1978 alone.

Anxiety and insomnia had previously been treated with barbiturates, which caused extreme withdrawal symptoms, were highly addictive and easy to overdose with. Benzodiazepines like Valium seemed like the safer and more effective option, and they became the prescription solution for every problem.

The drug was particularly associated with women, and in 1966, the Rolling Stones even wrote a song about it, entitled ‘Mother’s Little Helper’. It took a long time for the addictive nature and negative side-effects of benzodiazepines to be recognised, despite research in the 1980s linking the long-term use of this drug group to brain damage and calling the drug ‘more difficult to withdraw people from than heroin’.

The NHS is now supposed to prescribe benzodiazepines for a maximum of four weeks to curb the potential for addiction. However, some doctors are failing to stick to guidelines published more than 20 years ago.

Full Metro article

The hidden problem of addiction to prescription benzodiazepines | Wales – ITV News

Health officials have expressed concern over the number of people dependent on a class of prescription drugs called benzodiazepines.

First prescribed in the 1960s, benzodiazepines – also known as ‘benzos’ – are a group of medications used to treat anxiety, agitation, seizures and sleeping problems. But according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, around 40% of people who take the drugs every day for longer than six weeks will become addicted, and withdrawal symptoms can be severe.

“They worry me the amount that people are taking”, said Dr Julia Lewis, Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist at Gwent Specialist Substance Misuse Service. “People that get dependent get very tolerant to them over a period of time and take increasing doses, and because they are associated with sedation, coma and actually ultimately death, if you take enough of them, then that’s a concern.”

Jim, from south Wales, was first prescribed benzodiazepines as a teenager to help with stress and anxiety. 34 years later, he is still taking them.

“I’m a drug addict, but not drugs that I went out and bought on the street”, said Jim. “It’s a prescription drug addiction”.

Full article

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http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2018-07-13/the-hidden-problem-of-addiction-to-benzodiazepines/

Scots drug deaths hit new record high

Drug deaths in Scotland hit a new record high in 2017, having more than doubled in a decade.

New figures from the National Records of Scotland showed that 934 drug-related deaths were recorded in 2017.

This is the largest number since the figures started being collated in 1996, and more than double the 2007 total.

The Scottish government is drawing up a new drugs strategy, saying that “each of these untimely deaths is a tragedy”.

The newly released figures show a steady rise in deaths since 2013, with the rate of deaths now “very roughly two and a half times that of the UK as a whole” and “higher than those reported for all the EU countries”.

‘Drugs landscape’

The 2017 figure is up by 8% on that for the previous year, and more than double the 2007 total of 455.

Males accounted for 70% of the deaths, while 39% were of people aged 35 to 44 – compared to 29% being in the 45 to 54 age group and 20% in the 25 to 34 cohort.

Broken down by area, 30% of the deaths occurred in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, while 15% were in Lothian, 11% in Lanarkshire and 10% in Tayside.

Opiods such as heroin, morphine and methadone were linked to 87% of the deaths, while benzodiazepines like diazepam were linked to 59% – reflecting that multiple substances were implicated in many cases.