British Medical Association commits to various actions to tackle prescribed drug dependence

The British Medical Association held a meeting on 25 February to agree actions required to tackle prescribed drug dependence, covering benzodiazepines, z-drugs, antidepressants and opiate painkillers.  This follows the BMA’s request for evidence on this issue in 2014, which led to the publication of their analysis report last year.

The meeting was chaired by Baroness Hollins and included representatives from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Physicians, NICE, Public Health England, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Royal College of Nursing, the General Medical Council, as well as a number of withdrawal charities (REST Project, BAT, The Bridge Project, ADS, Recovery & Renewal). Dr Joanna Moncrieff, Dr James Davies and Prof Peter Kinderman also attended, and in total there were five members from the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry.

Luke Montagu, co-founder of CEP, gave a short talk at the start.

Following the meeting, the BMA has issued a document which details the agreed areas for action.  These include:

  • calling for a national helpline for prescribed drug dependence
  • writing to NICE proposing a review of the effects of withdrawal from psychoactive prescribed drugs
  • establishing a working group with the aim of establishing a multi-disciplinary quality standard guideline for prescribing
  • undertaking a pilot of the best way to fund and commission local specialist prescribed drug withdrawal services
  • lobbying for changes to the Prescribing Safety Assessment, part of the Year 1 medical curriculum
  • incorporating patient experiences within relevant training programmes
  • proposing areas of additional research to funding organisations, to include research on withdrawal and the harms associated with prescribed drug dependence

The BMA has allocated responsibility for following up these actions to relevant attendees and intends to hold a second meeting in June to assess progress.

11 Responses to British Medical Association commits to various actions to tackle prescribed drug dependence

  1. Sharon Freeland 07/03/2016 at 4:19 pm #


    I am a human being currently withdrawing from benzodiazepines. I feel extremely violated and harmed by the doctor who prescribed these medications to me over a long period of time. I also think that doctors who have prescribed benzodiazepines without regard for the health of the individual should be prosecuted criminally.

    I also am being treated for major depressive disorder recurrent and it’s recurring. At this moment I wish my existence was over. I am aware that the withdrawal symptoms may continue to plague me.

    Thanks for your efforts to address this issue. I can only hope that the United States will follow the United Kingdom’s steps to eradicate the use of benzodiazepines and create real help for those who are on or trying to withdraw from them.

    Thank you for sharing this with me,
    Denver, Colorado, USA

  2. Greg White 07/03/2016 at 4:44 pm #

    As a psychotherapist with a long history of advocacy in mental health, I must emphasise that all the evidence shows that the principal agency for detox from drugs is subjective, and supports and resources that can fully and unconditionally relate to such an agency are sine qua non.

  3. Otha Gutteridge 12/03/2016 at 1:32 am #

    For centuries, a little Belgian town Geel has treated the mentally ill. Why are its medieval methods so successful?

  4. Trish Thompson 17/03/2016 at 3:09 am #

    Join some of the many online support groups, especially for benzodiazepines, to see the immense suffering that thousands are enduring – without any support from the medical profession. We are sick of being told that our suffering does not exist. Other professions are expected to keep abreast of advancing research. Why not doctors? I have a right to expect that my doctor is fully cognisant of all side effects and withdrawal issues for every drug for which they write prescriptions. It is time for the medical profession to take responsibility for the deep harm inflicted on their trusting patients. Please HELP US.

  5. lee linden 19/03/2016 at 11:50 pm #

    My doctor rang me out of the blue last April because he wanted to tell that because I take valium everyday I am at an increased risk of developing dementia and that I would be in a position to sue him for it if I do develop dementia and basically told me to Co ordinate my own care because the Withdrawal is psychological (I wish). And yesterday he said that the blame for my addiction falls on the original prescriber.
    They have just left me to rot for the past year they do not care!! !!

  6. Sara 26/03/2016 at 11:36 am #

    I have been off the antidepressant which totally destroyed me for 18 months now. I wouldn’t class this as being withdrawal – I have been left seriously brain damaged. Prescribing doctors need to know the possible serious outcome of long term use of these neurotoxic, brain damaging drugs.

    I have been left to suffer like this without any help from the doctors who put me in this mess. Where’s the justice? Totally destroyed my life and my childrens life. It’s the most in-humane crime that could happen to anyone.

    • Terry 04/04/2016 at 5:04 pm #

      Sara I feel your pain , my life and my families life has been destroyed , like you I get no help what so ever from the people who I trusted with my life , suffering every single day it’s a living hell .

  7. Terry hall 30/03/2016 at 7:05 pm #

    I think this is great news , but many years to late , I have been in serious withdrawel from prescribed medication for 3 years now , my daily struggled has robbed me of a life , and there is no where to turn as doctors and physiatrist are oblivious to the damage and destruction of these meds , I fight this on my own ,yet we are told of all the help that is available , the meds were handed out to me with no thought or guidance by a doctor who had no real knowledge of the damage they can do when withdrawing or worse when your body can not tolerate them anymore , my problems before meds were a breeze compared to trying to get of them , only sufferers will ever no what hell is , if I could pass a law it would be that no med could be given by a general doctor and that only trained physiatrist with the right knowledge should ever be aloud to give out these drugs and then only after every other avenue to help the patient has been reviewed.

  8. Greg White 04/04/2016 at 5:35 pm #

    I would like to offer some encouragement here.

    If one takes seriously the long standing understanding from ancient wisdom in primitive medicine, that individual ‘mental illness’ is a red light gift to society, warning it of problems with the collective immune system, namely it’s inability to transcend existential life,its also a green light for the individual and the collective.
    How so ?
    If the sufferer is encouraged to link his/her detox from drugs with our society’s need to ‘detox from normal dissociated consciousness’, is ‘being the change it needs’ , in the transpersonal field, she is spiritually and psychologically finding meaning in her suffering, and surely now more likely to transcend it..


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