It was reported in The Sunday Times yesterday that more Britons die each year as a result of prescription drug addiction than heroin and cocaine put together. The figures published however are still very conservative as the deaths reported were only those directly attributed to overdose, not taking into account those who may have died as the result of the long term physical effects.
Over 800 people died last year as a result of overdosing on prescribed drugs / tranquilisers. Heroin and cocaine combined accounted for around 700 deaths.
NHS statistics show that there were 62 million prescriptions written for all types of painkillers last year and it is estimated that there are at least 40,000 people addicted to painkillers although other reports suggest that this figure may actually be substantially more.
The change in culture in the UK is partly to blame for this epidemic. The search for an instant fix, a cure, and an immediate sense of well being that drives addiction has spread into medical services. People present at their GP feeling unhappy, anxious, disillusioned; due to this culture and the pressure that GP’s find themselves under, the easiest option is to prescribe an anti-depressant, a pain killer, or a benzodiazepine. Due to the nature of many of these drugs, people either build up a tolerance or need more for the same effect. Particularly with opiate based painkillers, this can happen very quickly and the GP is faced with a dilemma with the ‘easiest’ solution being to increase the dose. At this point, the addiction has already taken hold although the individual often does not realise at this point.
At some point in the future, the individual wants to stop or reduce their medication and finds they cannot. The withdrawal symptoms are too much for many and they find they simply cannot break it. They feel trapped and frightened, not knowing where to turn. The GP who had been prescribing, at this point, does not know what to do and the individual often feels unsupported and starts to look for private detox programmes to help them get through the withdrawals as they are unable to do it on their own.
At The Providence Projects, we are treating a growing number of patients with addiction to both prescribed and over the counter medication. Dr Turnbull, our medical director, oversees the detox regimes to ensure safe and comfortable withdrawal. At the same time, the individual gets great help and support from the counselling team to help deal with any underlying issues.
If you, or a loved one, have a problem with prescribed, or over the counter medication, please call and speak to one of our counselors today on 01202 393030 or 0800 9550945. Everything you discuss is in complete confidentiality.