Drug addiction epidemic: 800,000 North West people repeatedly prescribed highly-addictive medication

803,087 people in the North West have beenrepeatedly prescribed highly addictive drugs for at least 12 months.
803,087 people in the North West have beenrepeatedly prescribed highly addictive drugs for at least 12 months.

The North West is in the midst of a prescription drug addiction epidemic, according to a new report from Public Health England which has revealed that almost a million people in the North West are addicted to drugs including antidepressants and opiate pain medicines.

In a first-of-its-kind report, Public Health England has released the results of a prescribed medicines review which highlights the dependence on and withdrawal from prescribed drugs and shows the estimated proportions of people with a prescription in March 2018 as well as how many of those people have been receiving the prescription for at least a year.

Further analysis from addiction treatment experts at UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) shows that over 1.4m people living across the North West were issued a prescription for antidepressants, opiate pain medicines (including codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and Hydrocodone), gabapentinoids, benzodiazepines, and Z-drugs.

The fact that over half - 803,087 - had been repeatedly prescribed such highly addictive drugs for at least 12 months prompted concern. Officials at Public Health England have stated that long-term use on such a scale could not be justified and was a sign of patients becoming dependent. UKAT welcomed Public Health England’s review, saying that it will serve as a 'serious wake up call'.

"This report shows us that thousands of people living across the North West are crying out for help, and unfortunately, they’re being given plasters in the form of pills to solve their problems," said Nuno Albuquerque of UKAT. "Long-term use of these drugs, for the majority, will be ineffective because over time, the patient is likely to develop physical and psychological tolerance to the drug.

“These figures suggest to me that GP's here are stretched and overwhelmed and need better support and investment to be able to offer alternative treatment therapies like talking therapy, yoga, exercise, diet, and acupuncture to better tackle their patients problems, instead of simply issuing a repeat prescription," Nuno added.

For more information and support on prescription drug addiction, visit http://bit.ly/2lDJ3Aa