H O U S E O F C O M M O N S
APPGITA – All Party Parliamentary Group for
Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction
House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Proposals for Manifesto from APPG on
Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction
February 12, 2008
By several criteria involuntary addiction to prescribed tranquillisers is the most serious drug problem in the UK today.
- The number of Benzodiazepine related deaths each year exceeds that of all illegal drugs except heroin.
- The number of addicts (1.5 million), exceeds by far the number addicted to all illegal drugs.
- The magnitude of addiction – tranquillisers are more addictive than heroin.
- The duration of addiction: Addicts often remain addicted for 10, 20, 30 years.
- The social cost of addiction is enormous, but as yet unquantified by official statistics.
- The suffering of tranquilliser addicts is extreme and is immoral. They have been introduced to an addictive drug by their trusted medical advisor. They are then abandoned with no treatment for their iatrogenic illness.
SUGGESTED POLICIES FOR MANIFESTO
- Education of doctors and the general public on the dangers of involuntary tranquilliser addiction, with the objectives of reducing the 1.5 million addicts and in order to prevent the creation of new addicts by the implementation of the treatment guidelines which restrict prescribing to 2 weeks.
- To provide specialised withdrawal services to involuntary tranquilliser addicts including; local self-referral clinics, self-help groups, a 24 hour national helpline and regional residential withdrawal clinics. To set up a working party to identify good practice for tranquilliser withdrawal.
- Rehabilitation for prescribed addicts designed to enable them to return to work – most addicts are unable to work. These policies to be set targets which are regularly monitored and the results to be published.
- Medical research into the mechanism of tranquilliser damage to the body to enable treatment to be provided to ex-addicts who have suffered damage from addiction.
- To quantify the tranquilliser problem by collecting official data on the subject. For example:
- The number of long-term addicts.
- The number of babies born addicted from addicted mothers.
- The number of ex-addicts who are permanently damaged.
- The number of new addicts created each year.
- The number of addicts who successfully withdraw each year.
- Figures on the duration of addiction.
- A costing of specialised tranquilliser withdrawal services, which have a high success rate when done properly and in comparison with withdrawal from illegal drugs.
- Attempt to quantify the social cost of tranquilliser addiction including:
- Calculate the correlation between tranquilliser addiction and incapacity benefit.
- The amount of time and money wasted by referral of tranquilliser addicts to hospitals for investigation of wrongly diagnosed illnesses e.g. ME/MS/depression which are really unrecognised tranquilliser side-effects.
- Accidents, including road traffic accidents due to “tranquilliser driving” and accidents in Old People’s Homes, including broken hips, due to “drugging up” of patients.
- Benzodiazepine tranquillisers pre-date the Medicines Act (1968) and the current licensing system (1972). They were awarded “licences of right” as a registration project with little or no scrutiny. To conduct an independent review of the tranquilliser licences for safety efficacy and number of licences issued.
- To consider if the internet trade in addictive drugs, based within the UK, is by-passing the prescription system. How tranquillisers are increasingly becoming a drug of abuse used by illegal addicts to “boost” illegal drugs or to “come down”.
- To review the practice of treating addicts to one drug by transference to a second more addictive drug, eg. heroin to methadone or alcohol to tranquillisers.
- To identify and allocate responsibility for the tranquillisers problem between the various ministries and agencies: The Home Office, Department of Health, Department of Work & Pensions, Primary Care Trusts, the National Treatment Agency, local health authorities, GP practices, local authorities and pharmacists.
- To introduce a levy on the pharmaceutical industry to deal with the legacy of problem drugs – gambling and alcohol industries pay a levy to provide services for victims of their products. A “pharmaceutical levy” similarly to be used to provide services for prescribed drug casualties.
- A public enquiry into the tranquilliser scandal.
Jim Dobbin MP, Chair
John Grogan MP, Vice Chair
Nigel Evans MP and Paul Rowen MP, Joint Secretaries