The All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence (APPG for PDD) is seeking to recruit more MPs to support its activities, and in particular its demand for a national helpline to support those affected by prescribed drug dependence. The more MPs who attend APPG meetings and contribute to debates on this topic, the more likely we are to achieve much needed change. The APPG for PDD is chaired by Paul Flynn MP, and its website can be found at prescribeddrug.org. CEP provides the secretariat for the APPG.
We would like to encourage anyone in the UK who has been affected by this issue to make contact with their MP, and, if possible, to visit their surgery in order to tell their story.
MPs respond positively to requests from constituents and a personal story is one of the most effective ways to obtain their support.
The APPG for PDD is working with a range of stakeholders as a part of the British Medical Association project on ways to support people who are affected by prescribed drug dependence, including a joint call for a national helpline and accompanying website.
We believe that a national helpline is the first step towards the provision of appropriate local services, as it will also enable the NHS to gather data on the scale of the problem and highlight gaps in local service provision.
We therefore suggest that you write to your MP in the first instance, preferably by post rather than email as this is more likely to generate a response.
You can find out who your MP is as well as contact details via the following link: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/. You can then write to your MP at their local constituency office or the following address:
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Make sure you include your own address in the letter so that they know you live in their constituency.
To help with this, we have prepared the following template. We suggest that you include a short summary of your story, and customise the letter as appropriate. Once you have written this letter, if you are able, please contact the constituency office to set up a meeting with your MP so that you can tell your story in person.
Please also include a summary of the work of the APPG (including our demand for a national helpline) which you can find after the letter template below.
We would also be grateful if you could let us know once you have contacted your MP and keep us up to date with any progress. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[MP name and address]
I am writing today to urge you to support the APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence, and its demand for a national helpline to help patients who have been affected by this major public health issue.
[your story – no more than 200 words]
Currently there are no NHS services to help people withdraw from benzodiazepines, antidepressants, painkillers and other psychotropic medications. A helpline and accompanying website would provide a lifeline for people like me, and would be an essential resource for both patients and doctors – most of whom have little understanding of the problems these drugs can cause.
Can you confirm that you will support this APPG by attending its meetings, and by contributing to relevant debates? Can you lend your support to the demand for a national helpline?
I have included a short summary of the work of the APPG as well as the rationale for a national helpline.
[I would also welcome the opportunity to meet in person to describe my experience and intend to make an appointment at your surgery.]
I look forward to hearing from you.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence (APPG for PDD)
The APPG is addressing the growing problem of prescribed drug dependence (PDD). Increasing numbers of prescriptions for addictive, psychoactive drugs are being given to both adults and children, including benzodiazepines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants and painkillers. While these drugs may help some people in the short term, there is growing evidence that long-term use leads to worse outcomes, and many patients report devastating persistent withdrawal and other negative effects. The APPG for PDD will engage with this issue by demanding appropriate services for those affected, proper training for medical professionals, reduced prescribing through adherence to new and existing guidelines, better data regarding the prevalence of PDD and more research into long-term harms associated with PDD.
The Chairman of the APPG is Paul Flynn MP. The co-chairs are Lord Patel of Bradford, David Tredinnick MP, Baroness Masham of Ilton and the Earl of Sandwich. The APPG website can be found at prescribeddrug.org.
The APPG for PDD is working with a range of stakeholders as a part of the British Medical Association project on ways to better support people who are affected by prescribed drug dependence, including a joint call for a national helpline. A helpline is urgently needed because:
- Prescriptions of benzodiazepines, antidepressants and painkillers have risen dramatically over recent years
- For example in the UK antidepressant prescription numbers have increased by 500% since 1992, with 11% of women and 6% of men taking the drug, while it is estimated that there are up to 1.9m long term users of benzodiazepines
- Millions of people may be taking these drugs unnecessarily, and should come off with appropriate support
- Side effects and withdrawal effects can be very severe and last for months and sometimes years, often leading to disability and sometimes suicide
- There are currently hardly any NHS-funded services to help people withdraw from these or other psychotropic medications
- The small number of existing charities who provide support can no longer cope with the rise in demand for their services
- A national helpline and accompanying website would be an essential resource for patients, carers, families and doctors
- It would be a low cost, yet effective national response to a recognised public health issue
We believe that a national helpline is also the first step towards the provision of appropriate local services, as it will also enable the NHS to gather data on the scale of the problem and highlight gaps in local service provision.
The AGM and next meeting of the APPG will be held in Committee Room G in the House of Lords at 2.30pm on Wednesday 19 October 2016. The topic for the meeting (following the AGM) is opioid painkiller dependence.