APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence calls on Camden CCG to reverse decision to close support service for patients dependent on benzodiazepines


The REST Project, based at MIND in Camden, has been providing essential support services to patients suffering from dependence and withdrawal from benzodiazepines for 30 years.  During this time it has helped thousands of clients safely withdraw from long term use of sedatives, tranquilisers and sleeping pills, through specialised group meetings and personalised support.  Around 130 clients use the service, with around 40 new clients joining each year.  The total cost of the service is £48,425 per annum, or around £372 per client each year.

REST has recently received a letter from the Commissioning Manager for Camden’s Substance Misuse Services (funded by the Camden CCG) which informs the project that its contract will be terminated at the end of March 2019.  It is understood that no alternative specialist provision will be made for these clients, and that they will be expected to access illicit drug and alcohol treatment services which are inappropriate for patients taking prescription drugs. REST’s clients have expressed shock, sadness and incomprehension at the news.

REST is one of only six charities in the UK providing support to patients affected by prescribed drug dependence.  Together, they cover a tiny fraction of the country.  Two other charities, Recovery Road in Cardiff and CITA in Liverpool, have also closed in recent years due to lack of funding.  These closures coincide with a dramatic increase in the number of prescriptions for addictive, psychoactive drugs being given to adults and children. A study published by NatCen in 2017 on dependence forming medications showed the rates of prescribing had increased by 50% from 2000 to 2015, with over 9% of the population taking either a benzodiazepine, z-drug, gaba-ergic drug, or opioid.[1]  In addition, around 10% of the population is estimated to be taking antidepressants, which can also cause severe long term withdrawal effects.

The APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence will be meeting on 24 January to discuss the issue.  It calls upon the Camden CCG to reverse this decision and to continue to provide funding for local patients affected by prescribed drug dependence.

Paul Flynn MP, chair of the APPG, said: ‘The REST Project in Camden has been running for 30 years, providing a life-saving service to thousands of patients in Camden affected by benzodiazepine and sleeping pill dependence.

The national situation is getting worse, not better, with increasing numbers of prescriptions for addictive medicines being handed out by doctors.  So, while we recognise that the health service is under pressure to find savings, we believe that closing the REST Project is short-sighted, and will lead to unnecessary suffering and uncertainty for its clients.’

More information on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence can be found at


11 Responses to APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence calls on Camden CCG to reverse decision to close support service for patients dependent on benzodiazepines

  1. Jan Waterton 22/01/2018 at 4:41 pm #

    Unbelievable, we need more of these centres to help people like myself, who desperately needed help to withdrawal from these drugs. I had to go private using all my dear husbands pension lump sum to do so, it’s totally wrong.

  2. Greg White 22/01/2018 at 4:45 pm #

    In Ireland we have an organisation called Grow, which it seems down the years has stood the test of time, and operates well throughout the company. I implicit in its success is the 12 step approach to addiction inherent in the mantra of Jung Spiritus versus Spiritu.It is free and inclusive.

  3. Caroline Montagu 22/01/2018 at 4:59 pm #

    Withdrawal from prescribed medicines such as benzodiazepines and ssris is often frightening and painful for the person and it is also frightening for the family. A centre such as REST takes some of the fear away and coincidentally helps the family. Keep it open. It is very valuable.

  4. Tracey 22/01/2018 at 5:05 pm #

    They want to hide and bury this problem because they caused it. The doctors that have prescribed these drugs for years and are still doing so and the government looking the other way as big pharma rule over us. It is disgusting and they all should be held accountable for the damage they have caused not just through benzo’s but also ssri’s and other drugs.

    • j.hill 22/01/2018 at 11:04 pm #

      So well said, Tracy. You put it in few words but oh so clearly.

  5. Greg White 22/01/2018 at 5:27 pm #

    If one was to define a Nazi, one would surely come down on identifying someone or group that cunningly organises itself around and profits from spreading as much pain suffering and death amongst those who are regarded as different.

    During the WW2 this was recognised as a clarion call for action, by British people.

    Unfortunately since then, the National Psyche became obsessed with ‘Germanising’ this destructive energy and have yet find the courage or wits to act on it’s flourishing reality within.

    Else why legally tolerate the actions of an individual or group that is so readily both symbolically and actually willing to create such profound distress.

    Or am I missing something.?

  6. Ruth Smith 22/01/2018 at 8:53 pm #

    Instead of closing down this service in Camden, there should be more services opening for prescribed drug dependency, including all psychoactive medications. It is absolutely scandalous that people are not being given a choice of support to withdraw from these addictive drugs. If people are given support to detox and withdraw from illegal drugs, why not prescribed drugs as well. They are all addictive with severe adverse side effects when attempts are made to discontinue taking them. You are not missing anything Greg White – I am coming to the view that this scandal has been promoted over many years with a view to providing a quick fix whilst making a lot of profits for people who do not care about the distress and anguish caused to their customers/consumers. I am afraid that the general public are subject to the propaganda about all these prescribed drugs being helpful and necessary. We need another clarion call for action – this time it is about the WAR on DRUGS – PRESCRIBED DRUGS !

  7. j.hill 22/01/2018 at 11:26 pm #

    Along with efforts to aid the prescribed-drug dependent, we might give more thought to warning the people of all countries. Reverence for medical people allowed this scourge
    This situation came from believing people who had vested interest in very questionable prescribing. If patients were to look up drugs before taking them, there would be no new victims. Patients are bullied into substituting unsubstantiated medical custom for their own intelligence.

    As I read here, I see intelligent people who also are educated. How did they fall prey to prescribed drug harm? While every one of us has a reason, there are common threads. One thread: we faced situations that had been intolerable for decades. We capitulated to medical force and unearned medical reputation. We set aside our critical thinking skills, and we paid dearly for the lapse.

    Now medically- damaged people are calling themselves, addicts , thus eliminating the possibility of relevant help. Addiction is a psychological problem, a compulsion to “use”. Did you have a “compulsion to use”? I didn’t think so.

  8. Ann K 23/01/2018 at 2:00 pm #

    They get you hooked and then have a customer for life.
    The Big Pharma companies have never had it so good!
    And best of all doctors all around the world keep prescribing these dangerous drugs as if thy were of benefit. No the benefit is only to those producing and selling.
    Big Pharma are drug producers and Doctors are drug dealers.

    I am currently tapering off of a gaba drug precribed by a Pain Management Doctor It is actually a difficult, painful and frightening experience.

    Then I have to try to come off of a benzo after taking it for nearly 30 years. Without any support too.

  9. sam 25/01/2018 at 6:12 pm #

    What a disgusting farce – the people who are mainly prescribing these drugs are GPs in the area. Even if they refer people for a tokenistic ‘consultation’ with a psychiatrist – the psychiatrist doesn’t know them and simply concurs with the GP – who also most often doesn’t know the individual and can make massive wrong assumptions about them. For example one who promotes himself as an old style person centred GP had described somebody who worked for agencies as ‘having irregular employment’ was not ‘in a relationship’ ‘was dull and drab’ ie presenting a stereotypical and ignorant picture of what he had been tught would represent a mentally ill person. Who was then coerced into taking drugs out of fear of his power to compel or be wrongly admitted to hospital. There is still an underlying contempt for mental ill health – they are not going to save the service – they are not mentally capable of admitting they have got it so wrong that many people no longer trust them. The issue should not be turned into a power game – peoples’ lives are at stake

  10. sam 25/01/2018 at 6:18 pm #

    PS To make it it even more farcical – one of the people who is in the forfront of promoting the ‘overdiagnosis mantra’ arounfd UK and abroad – ie Iona Heath ex GP previously of the Caversham Health Centre in Camden has said not a word about this over prescribing and lack of withdrawal seervices. Why?

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