CEP welcomes trailblazing report by Public Health England on withdrawal and dependence on psychoactive drugs

CEP today welcomes the publication of a report by Public Health England which recognises for the first time the scale of prescribing of drugs that can cause dependence and withdrawal.  The report shows that one in four adults in England has been prescribed a benzodiazepine, z-drug, gabapentinoid, opioid or antidepressant in the past twelve months, with up to a third of these receiving a prescription for at least three years.  Prescribing rates are significantly higher in deprived areas of England, while women and older adults have the highest rates.
The report is the culmination of over five years of work by CEP, which has focused on this issue since being founded in 2014. CEP provides the secretariat for the APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence, which played a pivotal role in the commissioning and development of the report.
CEP is pleased to note that the report contains recommendations which CEP and the APPG have long campaigned for, including:
  • A 24 hour national helpline and associated website to provide expert advice and support, also acting as a resource for patients and doctors to support shared decision-making
  • Updated clinical guidance as well as new guidance on management of dependence and withdrawal, and improved training to ensure clinicians adhere to this guidance
  • Provision of better information to patients about risks and benefits of these medicines, as well as alternatives such as social prescribing
  • Further research into the nature and severity of withdrawal, and the treatment of dependence and withdrawal, caused by prescribed drugs
  • Appropriate support from the NHS for patients experiencing dependence and withdrawal problems, including dedicated support services
  • Review of the training and educational resources for practitioners in relation to prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal

CEP and the APPG will now continue to work to ensure the implementation of these recommendations.

11 Responses to CEP welcomes trailblazing report by Public Health England on withdrawal and dependence on psychoactive drugs

  1. Thalia Martin 10/09/2019 at 9:12 am #

    Brilliant! I’m so glad your work is being recognised.

  2. Rosemary Knowles 10/09/2019 at 12:08 pm #

    I heard this news on Today Programme, Radio 4 and went out and bought 3 copies of the Daily Mail – great coverage – and also The Sun. What a lovely change from the B—– Parliamentary shenanigans we have had to endure. At last this prescribing epidemic is getting priority – so huge Thank You to cepuk and also to Matt Hancock. Is a little bit of sanity returning to our poor beleaguered country?

  3. Fiachra 10/09/2019 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you very much for the information.

    It doesn’t surprise me at all. If we don’t watch out for ourselves our life expectancy is likely to start to going down; dependency on “tranquillisers” is bad for a person’s health.

    I would like go join the CEP and attend your meetings. Would this be possible?

  4. AD 10/09/2019 at 1:48 pm #

    Great news and it is a pity that this didn’t happen many years ago when I was going through withdrawal . I would never have ended up on a psych ward due to the withdrawal symptoms I was having .

  5. Paula Kovacs 10/09/2019 at 3:01 pm #

    This is a momentous event. I hope that those of us who have been involved for decades with the campaign to raise awareness of the effects of iatrogenic benzodiazepine addiction and the ensuing prolonged and distressing withdrawal process, can at last feel that the medical profession is taking a step back from its complicit liaison with Big Pharma and
    demonstrating that it is listening to, and beginning to take responsibility for, the effects of these drugs on a largely unaware general public. As a fully recovered, long term involuntary benzodiazepine addict myself, I celebrate this development and hope that future generations won’t have to endure the living hell that those like me have been through. I would like to know if the further withdrawal training of the medical profession, mentioned in the announcement, will include the ‘experts by experience’, the survivors of addiction? I feel we have much wisdom, insight to contribute to this process.

  6. Alastair Knox 10/09/2019 at 4:56 pm #

    I’m presently taking 600 mg/day of Tregabolin for pain following an accident where I broke my neck. I belong to a Facebook group devoted to the withdrawal from this drug and some of the case stories are extremely disturbing. Withdrawal can lead to all manner of pschyiatric and physical symptons lasting years.. I’m now terrified to come off this drug.

  7. Dianne Bunn 10/09/2019 at 7:08 pm #

    Wow! We need more physician education on dependance and withdrawal here in Canada. I am on Gabapentin and the side effects are horrid but the withdrawal I have suffered through 3 times now with multiple runs to the ER have put tapering on the shelf for me. I an so done with this poison!! If only I had known that this would happened.

    • J.Hill 11/09/2019 at 7:50 am #

      A safe taper from Gabapentin is functionally difficult because a liquid delivery form retains original potency only for a short time. This means that the amounts tapered at intervals are really unknown, This leaves dry-form tapering, and that is easily inaccurate.

      I’d like to add this: If Gabapentin is prescribed to ease benzo-withdrawal symptoms and the benzo already is eliminated, you may be suffering not from Gabapentin withdrawal but from an incomplete benzo taper. It’s worth considering.

  8. Pauline Thomas 10/09/2019 at 9:00 pm #

    ‘If only I had known that this would happen’ is a most poignant sentence. The awful truth is that nobody would be willing to take these drugs if they were given proper information on how addictive they are or even how hard it is to stop taking them.

    It is time for the big Pharma giants to start taking some responsibilty for keeping patients in the dark. My son had awful mind blowing withdrawal symptoms coming off of the antiepilepsy drug called Tegretol. Tegretol is a cousin to the tricyclic antidepressant and Peter Breggin says in his book that TCA’s have awful withdrawal symptoms. I did not know that. However trying to get information from the drug company was near impossible. They only talk to the medical people. Shocking abuse of power.

  9. J.Hill 11/09/2019 at 7:59 am #

    I did have success in telephoning Roche, the manufacturer of Diazepam. They were uninformed, but civilized. I spoke with one of their pharmacists and did learn that the brand-name, Valium is still available.

    Something else: Tegretol will alter the rate of clearance of most benzodiazepines. Still it is prescribed as insurance against seizure in benzo withdrawal. However, we have identified taper process that lowers that risk without medications. I wish that prescribers would access drugs’ interactions before prescribing them.

  10. Rosemary Knowles 13/09/2019 at 7:49 pm #

    Reading the comments above, they can be summed up by people wishing they had been informed beforehand about the outcomes of all these addictive drugs which need supervised slow tapering. Nobody told them about the risks of horrendous withdrawal but warned them of not going “cold turkey” – proving they actually knew they were addictive like all psycho-active drugs, legal or illegal. The dishonesty is glaring. The general public can be excused about their ignorance of what “withdrawal” is and what it actually is like. One neighbour recommended my poor struggling son go and help the refugees in our community to learn that other people were worse off than he is, having lost everything through bad drug prescribing by trusted GPs. This ignorance needs to be redressed. Mental abuse is worse than physical abuse to recover from. Make it known.

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