Tag Archives: dependency

Patients who are becoming addicted to prescription drugs – ITV

VIDEO

They are powerful painkillers bringing relief to millions of people – but there is growing concern over the use of opioids.

There’s evidence that some patients are becoming hooked on them and many experts argue they are ineffective when it comes to reducing long term chronic pain.

Tramadol: The most dangerous drug in the world

Over the years, as often happens, a difference between clinical trials and the real world started to emerge.

Imagine a prescription medication that relieves pain just as well as narcotics like Oxycontin, but isn’t addictive. Too good to be true?

Turns out, yes.

For years, that was the case with Tramadol, a synthetic opioid drug that was released in 1995 under the brand name Ultram to great expectations. This new drug seemed to offer all the benefits of more powerful, more addictive drugs, but with fewer of the downsides of dependency — at least in clinical trials. This was apparently in part because trials examined tramadol use by injection, but it is manufactured — and far more potent — in pill form.

And if the drug was unlikely to make people dependent, it was not likely to be abused, unlike other opioid alternatives like Vicodin (also known as Norco), Percocet — let alone be as dangerous as high potency opioid medications like morphine, Dilaudid, or Fentanyl.

So for many years, Tramadol was widely prescribed by doctors as a “safer” alternative to narcotics for pain. The difference between narcotics and opioids is subtle, but opioids are natural or synthetically made drugs that function metabolically in the body like opium derivatives derived from poppy plant, while narcotics is more often used as a legal term, classifying drugs that blur the senses and produce euphoria, including cocaine and other non-opiates.

Indeed, unlike other opioid drugs, the Drug Enforcement Agency didn’t classify Tramadol as a controlled substance, because the FDA believed it had a low potential for abuse.

Though there were concerns about tramadol abuse in the years after release, the FDA repeatedly determined that the drug was not being widely abused, and so left it as an unscheduled drug.
This made Tramadol a particularly dangerous drug — because it was, in fact, highly addictive and prone to abuse. But because it was easier to obtain and had less concerns from physicians, it was more widely prescribed. Over the years, as often happens, a difference between clinical trials and the real world started to emerge. Emergency rooms began to report a growing number of overdoses related to Tramadol ……..

full article here

Heath Ledger – awareness

Overdose awareness Day!

Heath Ledger, Prescription drugs and overdose.

‘It was [10] years ago … but to me it’s like it was yesterday.’

These are the words of Kim Ledger as he recalled the loss of his son Heath to an opioid overdose in January 2008.

The 28-year-old actor had been caught up in a punishing production schedule, flying between three different countries and filming scenes at night in the bitter cold. He contracted a chest infection that developed into pneumonia, and experienced insomnia.

Heath visited a variety of doctors on his travels to help deal with these problems, collecting a veritable cornucopia of prescription medications, including opioids and sleeping pills.

In combination, the opioids, sleeping pills and the chest infection itself had a depressing effect on Heath’s respiratory system, causing it to shut down. This made him a high-profile casualty of what was emerging as a prescription opioid epidemic, which includes the use of legal drugs such as codeine, fentanyl and oxycodone.

This phenomenon has claimed thousands of lives in Australia and around the world.

While Heath’s death was the result of a medication mix he didn’t realise would exact such a heavy toll, other opioid users have a more long-term relationship with these types of drugs, often becoming unexpectedly addicted after using them as a treatment for chronic non-malignant pain.

‘The accidental addict. In a very short space of time, people can become addicted to oxycodone and products like that,’ Kim said.

Such was the case of 30-year-old nurse and mother of two, Katie Howman, found dead following a fentanyl overdose in her Toowoomba home just before Christmas in 2013. Investigations revealed she had visited 20 different doctors and 15 different pharmacies over the previous 13 months in her search for opioids.

Opioids – a category that includes pharmaceuticals such as oxycodone and fentanyl, as well as illicit versions such as heroin – remain the main cause of accidental overdose death in Australia. Opioid-related deaths hovered at around 450 per year at the turn of the century, but these numbers have risen sharply since 2006 to hit over 1100 per year since 2014.

What has led us to this epidemic, and what can GPs do to help curb it?

Too good to be true
In the late 1990s, prescription opioids seemed like an ideal answer to the often-difficult problem of chronic, non-malignant pain.

‘There was an increased demand to treat chronic pain. There were very few options and very little research that had been done on this problem,’ Dr Evan Ackermann, a GP with a special interest in opioids, told the RACGP.

‘This was mixed with a situation of some fairly aggressive drug company marketing of opioids and a change of clinical attitude towards pain. Normally, pain would be part of the healing process, but people started to say we should be looking at pain as the “fifth sign” and treating it aggressively.

‘It was a cultural shift across the healthcare sector, across the board, from pharmacy right through to general practice, specialists and hospitals.’…………….
‘There is a sense out there sometimes that it’s just people choosing to do this, that there’s a dichotomy between the genuine-pain patient and the bad drug user,’ she said. ‘My experience is that they’re the same group of people.

‘Opioids interact with us as a species in a particular way; all of us are at risk of side-effects and one of those major side-effects is dependency and addiction.’

………….

full story

Exerpt from:https://www.racgp.org.au/newsGP/Clinical/Agony-and-ecstasy-Prescription-drugs-and-overdose

The path from painkillers to heroin

The path from painkillers to heroin

Experts warn that prescription painkillers are leading individuals to become addicted to heroin.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, among 75% of heroin users report using opiod prescription pain medication prior to trying heroin. Despite the known side effects, painkillers like Co-codomol, Tramadol and Morphine are among the several prescription opiods prescribed by doctors in the UK for chronic pain. In 2017 alone, nearly 24 million opiods were prescribed in the UK. Further, recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number of people dying from opioid-related drug misuse has reached a record high in England and Wales, with around 3,700 people dying in 2016 because of drug misuse, 2000 of these involving an opiod medication. With the increase in prescription opiods use, many now question whether there is an increased risk of those who are prescribed such painkillers eventually using heroin.

Addiction through opiod painkillers develops quickly and before patients realise they progress from legitimate painkiller use to the stage of dependency and tolerance, meaning that the usual dosage is no longer sufficient to manage their pain and simply use the painkillers to keep withdrawals at bay. Many patients report that once their doctors become aware there is a problem, they stop prescribing and eventually cut them off completely; with little to no support and leaving them with nowhere to turn. Now dependent on the medication and their prescription no longer available, many patients become so desperate that they turn to heroin when they lose access to the painkillers.

This transition is all too familiar to one of PAST’s service users, who states “I broke my back in a car accident and was prescribed several pain killers, including MST (Morphine), Dydocodiene and Tramadol. I knew I was addicted as I had started to use the medication simply to feel normal and would often take more than necessary; resulting in me telling the doctor that I had ‘lost’ my prescription in order to obtain more. 3 years after my accident I was called into the doctor’s to speak about my repeat prescription and she expressed concern that I was addicted. I knew I was and she did too. The doctor immediately reduced my medication and gave me 3 weeks to come off the medication completely. The withdrawals were excruciating and I felt that I had no choice but to resort to buying the opiod pills on the street and online, and when this became too expensive I eventually began to use heroin.”

Whilst prescribed medication is not solely responsible for heroin use as many heroin users have not previously used prescription opiods, it cannot be denied that there is strong evidence demonstrating a significant number of patients prescribed opiods eventually move to heroin. There is no clear answer to this problem but it is certainly shows that there is a desperate need for support for those individuals who may have problems with prescription opiods.

If you think that you may have a problem with painkillers, whether prescription, over the counter or even online then why not attend a PAST meeting on a Tuesday afternoon at Chapter Arts, Cardiff for a coffee and a chat.

Written by Joanna Whitton – PAST

Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

Antidepressant Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

My Doctor/Psychiatrist told me that I have to take an antidepressant to correct a
chemical imbalance in my brain, is this true?

No, it is a myth, we cannot test or measure the state of neurotransmitters in your brain, the
American Psychiatric Association disavowed this myth in 2011(1). It is a pharmaceutical
company invention (2).

How many people experience withdrawal effects?

It varies according to which drug is used, at what dosage, and for how long. Recent
studies (3) are showing the number affected to be greater than 50% of those taking the
drugs. The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists did their own survey (4) (now removed) which
showed that 63% reported withdrawal effects.

Why does my doctor/psychiatrist keep saying ‘discontinuation syndrome’ when I
mention withdrawal?

Discontinuation syndrome is an invented term (5) which minimises the role of the drug in the
harm caused and steers users away from addiction terminology. While dependence and
withdrawal have some features in common with addiction, they are not accurately
described using just this approach. What you are experiencing is an effect of withdrawing
from a drug, not of discontinuing treatment.

Why does my doctor insist that ‘once the drug is out of my system’ I will be fine?

Because not all doctors understand the effects of antidepressant drugs on the brain (6). A
heavy drinker or smoker may suddenly stop drinking/smoking, but the effects on their brain
and nervous system continue to be felt long after they have quit. Antidepressant drugs
change the brain in ways we don’t currently understand. These adaptations (7) to the drug
are responsible for withdrawal effects.

What does withdrawal feel like?

It’s a highly variable experience ranging from mild symptoms which pass quickly, to
profound symptoms that sometimes persist for many years. In a 2017 survey (8), 46% of
those reporting withdrawal symptoms described them as ‘severe’. Most common reported
symptoms (9) are insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, panic,
depression, agitation. Withdrawal symptoms can sometimes mimic depressive or anxious states but should not be confused with relapse (10).

I am worried about dependence, what should I do?

The most important thing is never stop your drugs suddenly, this can be dangerous. Talk to
your doctor but be prepared as many doctors do not have the information to be able to
help. Withdrawal is a unique experience, with no fixed rules.

There are some excellent and
reliable online sources for help including:
• theinnercompass.org
• madinamerica.com/drug-withdrawal-resources
• survivingantidepressants.org
www.jfmoore.co.uk August, 2018
Antidepressant Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

References (to read these online visit www.jfmoore.co.uk/ltw.html)
1. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/couch-crisis/psychiatry-new-brain-mind-andlegend-chemical-imbalance
2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-depression-just-bad-chemistry/
3. http://roar.uel.ac.uk/7402/
4. RCPsych survey (now deleted)
5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/side-effects/201107/antidepressantwithdrawal-syndrome
6. http://time.com/3399344/antidepressant-changes-the-brain-study-finds/
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4118946/
8. http://roar.uel.ac.uk/7402/
9. https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/370338
10.http://www.stacommunications.com/journals/diagnosis/2006/Diagnosis_sep_06/DS.pdf
www.jfmoore.co.uk August, 2018

What we know about antidepressant withdrawal V1

James Moore

“Eminem – About The Dependency he had” – YouTube

https://youtu.be/9bpvT3VjOiU

‘Unnecessary’ painkillers could leave thousands addicted, doctors warn | Science | The Guardian

Prescriptions for powerful opioid painkillers have doubled from 12m to 24m in past decade, NHS Digital figures reveal

Dependency, addiction, opiate painkillers

Dependency, addiction, opiate painkillers

Powerful and potentially addictive opiate painkillers are being handed out too readily, leading doctors have warned after it emerged that the number of times the drugs are being prescribed in the UK has doubled in the past decade.

The Faculty of Pain Medicine and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said they were worried about the high and growing use of opioid drugs such as codeine and tramadol – while other experts warn that hundreds of thousands of patients could be addicted to them.

Dr Barry Miller, dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine, said that the increase in the prescription rates of painkillers in the UK should be “met with concern”, adding: “While some of the increase can be attributed to an improved understanding of the effectiveness of these medications by medical professionals, we are concerned by reports of unnecessary prescription.”

More on this story

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/05/unnecessary-opioid-painkiller-prescriptions-thousands-addicted-nhs-doctors-warn

Are All Psychiatric Drugs Too Unsafe to Take?

An interesting article found at
http://mindfreedom.uk/psychiatric-drugs-unsafe-take/

Psychiatric drugs are more dangerous than you have ever imagined. If you haven’t been prescribed one yet, you are among the lucky few. If you or a loved one are taking psychiatric drugs, there is hope; but you need to understand the dangers and how to minimize the risk.

The following overview focuses on longer-term psychiatric drug hazards, although most of them can begin to develop within weeks. They are scientifically documented in my recent book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and my medical text Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition.

Newer or atypical antipsychotic drugs: Risperdal, Invega, Zyprexa, Abilify, Geodon, Seroquel, Latuda, Fanapt and Saphris

Antipsychotic drugs, including both older and newer ones, cause shrinkage (atrophy) of the brain in many human brain scan studies and in animal autopsy studies. The newer atypicals especially cause a well-documented metabolic syndrome including elevated blood sugar, diabetes, increased cholesterol, obesity and hypertension. They also produce dangerous cardiac arrhythmias and unexplained sudden death, and they significantly reduce longevity. In addition, they cause all the problems of the older drugs, such as Thorazine and Haldol, including tardive dyskinesia, a largely permanent and sometimes disabling and painful movement disorder caused by brain damage and biochemical disruptions.

Risperdal in particular but others as well cause potentially permanent breast enlargement in young boys and girls. The overall risk of harmful long-term effects from antipsychotic drugs exceeds the capacity of this review. Withdrawal from antipsychotic drugs can cause overwhelming emotional and neurological suffering, as well as psychosis in both children and adults, making complete cessation at times very difficult or impossible.

Despite their enormous risks, the newer antipsychotic drugs are now frequently used off-label to treat anything from anxiety and depression to insomnia and behavior problems in children. Two older antipsychotic drugs, Reglan and Compazine, are used for gastrointestinal problems, and despite small or short-term dosing, they too can cause problems, including tardive dyskinesia.

Antipsychotic drugs masquerading as sleep aids: Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa and others

Nowadays, many patients are given medications for insomnia without being told that they are in fact receiving very dangerous antipsychotic drugs. This can happen with any antipsychotic but most frequently occurs with Seroquel, Abilify and Zyprexa. The patient is unwittingly exposed to all the hazards of antipsychotic drugs.

Antipsychotic drugs masquerading as antidepressant and bipolar drugs: Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa and others

The FDA has approved some antipsychotic drugs as augmentation for treating depression along with antidepressants. As a result, patients are often misinformed that they are getting an “antidepressant” when they are in fact getting one of the newer antipsychotic drugs, with all of their potentially disastrous adverse effects. Patients are similarly misled by being told that they are getting a “bipolar” drug when it is an antipsychotic drug.

Antidepressants: SSRIs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Viibyrd, as well as Effexor, Pristiq, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta and Vivalan

The SSRIs are probably the most fully studied antidepressants, but the following observations apply to most or all antidepressants. These drugs produce long-term apathy and loss of quality of life. Many studies of SSRIs show severe brain abnormalities, such as shrinkage (atrophy) with brain cell death in humans and the growth of new abnormal brain cells in animal and laboratory studies. They frequently produce an apathy syndrome — a generalized loss of motivation or interest in many or all aspects of life. The SSRIs frequently cause irreversible dysfunction and loss of interest in sexuality, relationship and love. Withdrawal from all antidepressants can cause a wide variety of distressing and dangerous emotional reactions from depression to mania and from suicide to violence. After withdrawal from antidepressants, individuals often experience persistent and distressing mental and neurological impairments. Some people find antidepressant withdrawal to be so distressing that they cannot fully stop taking the drugs.

Benzodiazepine (benzos) anti-anxiety drugs and sleep aids: Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium, Librium, Tranxene and Serax; Dalmane, Doral, Halcion, ProSom and Restoril used as sleep aids

Benzos deteriorate memory and other mental capacities. Human studies demonstrate that they frequently lead to atrophy and dementia after longer-term exposure. After withdrawal, individuals exposed to these drugs also experience multiple persisting problems including memory and cognitive dysfunction, emotional instability, anxiety, insomnia, and muscular and neurological discomforts. Mostly because of severely worsened anxiety and insomnia, many cannot stop taking them and become permanently dependent. This frequently happens after only six weeks of exposure. Any benzo can be prescribed as a sleep aid, but Dalmane, Doral, Halcion, ProSom and Restoril are marketed for that purpose.

Non-benzo sleep aids: Ambien, Intermezzo, Lunesta and Sonata

These drugs pose similar problems to the benzos, including memory and other mental problems, dependence and painful withdrawal. They can cause many abnormal mental states and behaviors, including dangerous sleepwalking. Insufficient data is available concerning brain shrinkage and dementia, but these are likely outcomes considering their similarity to benzos. Recent studies show that these drugs increase death rate, taking away years of life, even when used intermittently for sleep.

Stimulants for ADHD: Adderall, Dexedrine and Vyvanse are amphetamines, and Ritalin, Focalin, and Concerta are methylphenidate

All of these drugs pose similar if not identical long-term dangers to children and adults. In humans, many brain scan studies show that they cause brain tissue shrinkage (atrophy). Animal studies show persisting biochemical changes in the brain. These drugs can lead directly to addiction or increase the risk of abusing cocaine and other stimulants later on in adulthood. They disrupt growth hormone cycles and can cause permanent loss of height in children. Recent studies confirm that children who take these drugs often become lifelong users of multiple psychiatric drugs, resulting in shortened lifespan, increased psychiatric hospitalization and criminal incarceration, increased drug addiction, increased suicide and a general decline in quality of life. Withdrawal from stimulants can cause “crashing” with worsened behavior, depression and suicide. Strattera is a newer drug used to treat ADHD. Unlike the other stimulants, it is not an addictive amphetamine, but it too can be dangerously overstimulating. Strattera is more similar to antidepressants in its longer-term risks.

Mood stabilizers: Lithium, Lamictal, Equetro and Depakote

Lithium is the oldest and hence most thoroughly studied. It causes permanent memory and mental dysfunction, including depression, and an overall decline in neurological function and quality of life. It can result in severe neurological dilapidation with dementia, a disastrous adverse drug effect called “syndrome of irreversible lithium-effectuated neurotoxicity” or SILENT. Long-term lithium exposure also causes severe skin disorders, kidney failure and hypothyroidism. Withdrawal from lithium can cause manic-like episodes and psychosis. There is evidence that Depakote can cause abnormal cell growth in the brain. Lamictal has many hazards including life-threatening diseases involving the skin and other organs. Equetro cases life-threatening skin disorders and suppresses white cell production with the risk of death from infections. Withdrawal from Depakote, Lamictal and Equetro can cause seizures and emotional distress.

Summarizing the tragic truth

It is time to face the enormous tragedy of exposing children and adults to any psychiatric drug for months and years. My new video introduces and highlights these risks and my book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal describes them in detail and documents them with scientific research.

All classes of psychiatric drugs can cause brain damage and lasting mental dysfunction when used for months or years. Although research data is lacking for a few individual drugs in each class, until proven otherwise it is prudent and safest to assume that the risks of brain damage and permanent mental dysfunction apply to every single psychiatric drug. Furthermore, all classes of psychiatric drugs cause serious and dangerous withdrawal reactions, and again it is prudent and safest to assume that any psychiatric drug can cause withdrawal problems.

Widespread misinformation

Difficulty in stopping psychiatric drugs can lead misinformed or unscrupulous health professionals to tell patients that they need to take their drugs for the rest of their lives when they really need to taper and withdraw from them in a careful manner. As described in Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, tapering outside of a hospital often requires psychological and social help, including therapy and emotional support and monitoring by friends or family.

Meanwhile, there is no substantial or convincing evidence that any psychiatric drug is useful longer-term. Psychiatric drug treatment for months or years lacks scientific basis. Therefore, the risk-benefit ratio is enormously lopsided toward the risk.

Science-based conclusions

Whenever possible, psychiatric drugs should be tapered and withdrawn either as an inpatient or as an outpatient with careful clinical supervision and a support network as described in Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal. Keep in mind that it is not only dangerous to take psychiatric drugs — it can be dangerous to withdraw from them. The safest solution is to avoid starting psychiatric drugs! It is time for a return to psychological, social and educational approaches to emotional suffering and impairment.

Psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin‘s scientific and educational work has provided the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs and electroconvulsive therapy. He leads the way in promoting more caring, empathic and effective therapies. His newest book is Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions. His website is Breggin.com.

Peter R. Breggin, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Breggin criticizes contemporary psychiatric reliance on diagnoses and drugs, and promotes empathic therapeutic relationships. He has been called “the Conscience of Psychiatry.” See his website at www.Breggin.com

TOT’S LIVING HELL Baby girl’s skin burns and tears off after she becomes addicted to eczema steroid cream

Indica suffered eczema and was prescribed topical steroid creams, but soon her skin became dependent Her skin burns, tears off and scabs over after she became dependent on a cream to treat her eczema.

The eight-month old was prescribed four different steroid creams before mum Natasha Das Gupta stopped the treatment altogether.

She believes the intensity of the drugs have left her daughter addicted to steroids.

The 27-year-old said her baby girl is suffering topical steroid withdrawal, which can happen after stopping strong or long-term use of the medication.

Natasha stopped using the treatment in March, and since then Indica’s has endured nasty flare ups.

The mum-of-two said she rarely sleeps, due to her daughter’s piercing screams.

She said: “It was more gruesome than anything I had seen before, and worse than her eczema had ever been.

“She had no skin on her cheeks.

“It was red, wet and raw. Her skin was peeling off, it was terrifying.”

“She would scream like her skin was on fire all day and all night.

“It was like her skin was melting off  and there was nothing I could do about it. It was horrible.”

Indica was prescribed topical steroid creams in February, to treat the eczema that covered her entire body.

Within hours Natasha could see her daughter’s skin clearing up.

But later it would get much worse.

“I used less than the recommended amount as I knew it was no good for her,” Natasha, from Mississauga, Ontario in Canada, said.

“Her skin would get better over short bursts of time, it cleared up and then came back.

“You could see the significant difference in three to four hours, it acted so quickly because she was so small.”

But overnight, Indica’s condition would revert back, the last time coming back worse than before.

Natasha decided to ditch the cream after using it for just a month, but a day later her daughter’s skin flare-up was the worse she’d seen.

She’s since suffered flare ups lasting six, five and three-and-a-half weeks, leaving some strangers to ask Natasha if her daughter is a burns victim.

“I knew her body was having a negative reaction to the steroid creams, but I didn’t know it had a name,” she said.

“It was totally defeating, because I knew it was out of my hands. It was a helpless feeling doing nothing.”

Natasha has been warned it could take up to a year for Indica’s skin to recover fully, but thankfully her symptoms are starting to ease.

The 27-year-old said: “On bad days life is like a prison and truly hell, but she has better days too.

“It’s insanely scary what these things can do and that you don’t know what’s going to happen.

“It’s pretty devastating as there are a lot of holistic ways to permanently cure eczema through environment and diet control.

“I don’t think she will remember it. This is the devil incarnate if ever I’ve seen it.”

Full article: https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/6860131/baby-skin-burns-tears-off-addicted-eczema-steroid-cream/

Anti-depressants: ‘I’ve lost my identity and who I am’

“I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost my social life, I’ve lost my career, I’ve lost my identity and sense of who I am.”

James Moore says he ‘doesn’t feel the same person as before’ since becoming hooked on anti-depressants that were prescribed to help ease panic attacks.

The former civil servant said if he had been given a proper warning of the risks, he would never have taken them.

The Welsh Government said it had put in an extra £4 million in psychological therapies in the past two years.

James has been been unable to stop taking the medication since starting it 2012.

The 46-year-old has suffered insomnia, panic, nausea, shaking spells and anxiety during the three times he has tried to come off anti-depressants.

“It has been a huge personal cost to me,” said the married father-of-one from Rogiet in Monmouthshire.

“I feel like I’m in the middle of a marathon and I really don’t know whether I’m going to get to the end and over the finish line intact or not.”

Campaigners in Wales say there is a lack of tailored support and treatment for people struggling with anti-depressant dependency.

People like James, unable to stop taking them, say they have to deal with “devastating” symptoms of withdrawal alone.

A psychiatry professor said the drugs were over-prescribed and patients are not fully aware of the potential risks.

The Royal College of General Practitioners Wales (RCGP), however, said GPs tried to prescribe “in the best interests of patients” and, used appropriately, anti-depressants can be “an effective part of treatment”.

But Dr David Healy, professor of psychiatry at Bangor University, said patients were often not told of the risks of dependency as doctors had not been told themselves.

“They haven’t been told, for instance, that you can get hooked to these drugs and it may be close to impossible to come off them,” he said.

“Back in the late 80s when the drugs came on, first the expectation was you’d be on them for three, maybe six months. The idea they’d be on them for a year, or five years or 10 years was inconceivable back then. But that’s what happened,” he added.

At the end of last year, campaigners brought a petition calling for action on prescription drug dependence and withdrawal to the Welsh Assembly. They want assembly members to urge the Welsh Government to act.

However, their concerns are disputed by other medical professionals. A major report has been published and found that for many patients, anti-depressants work, although it did not look at long-term use.

Dr Adarsh Shetty, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales, said: “I see in my routine clinical practice, people who have benefited from them tremendously.

“So I would really advise people to talk to their doctor, their GP or their psychiatrist if they have any worries about anti-depressants and any concerns about dependence on anti-depressants. It is really important to stress they are not addictive medications.”

Dr Jane Fenton-May, of the Royal College of General Practitioners Wales, said GPs always “endeavour to prescribe in the best interests of patients” and “engage patients in a discussion about what is best for them as an individual”.

The RCGP said it recognised there was a “lack of alternative treatments”, there “can be difficulties in obtaining the necessary support” and supported calls for improvements in this area.

The Welsh Government said “there are a wide range of treatments other than medication available for depression” and it had invested an additional £4m in psychological therapies over the past two years.

“Patients are encouraged to speak with their GP, who would be able to help them make informed decisions about their care”, the spokesman added.

Full article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-43169946