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e-Petition: Prescription drug dependence and withdrawal - recognition and support

open quote / dyfyniad agored

We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to take action to appropriately recognise and effectively support individuals affected and harmed by prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal.

This petition has been set up to raise awareness of the plight of individuals in Wales who are affected by dependence on and withdrawal from prescribed antidepressants and benzodiazepines – and specifically to ask the Welsh Government to support the BMA's UK-wide call for action to provide timely and appropriate support for individuals affected.
The term "prescription drug dependence" refers specifically to the situation where, having taken their antidepressant or benzodiazepine medication exactly as prescribed by their doctor, patients find they are unable to stop because of the debilitating withdrawal effects. It is important to note here that addiction and dependence are related but different issues. Use of the term addiction implies pleasure seeking behaviour. Reporting of prescription drug dependence in the media continues to allude to "misuse" and "addiction" as if the patient is responsible in some way for their own harm. This is far from the truth. There is no pleasure whatsoever in finding that if you try to reduce or stop your antidepressant, you suffer a wide range of physical and emotional disturbances, that for some people can be life limiting and, tragically, even life ending. Patients need formal acknowledgement, support and guidance to help them through their withdrawal journey and this currently does not exist.​

The British Medical Association has recently highlighted the issue of prescribed drug dependence. In May 2017, they wrote: "Prescribing of psychoactive drugs is a major clinical activity and a key therapeutic tool for influencing the health of patients. But often their use can lead to a patient becoming dependent or suffering withdrawal symptoms. In the absence of robust data, we do not know the true scale and extent of the problem across the UK. However, the evidence and insight presented to us by many charity and support groups shows that it is substantial. It shows us that the 'lived experience' of patients using these medications is too often associated with devastating health and social harms. This represents a significant public health issue, one that is central to doctors' clinical role, and one that the medical profession has a clear responsibility to help address." Because the side effects, tolerance effects and withdrawal effects of these medicines are not medically recognised for what they are, when patients develop these related effects/symptoms they are often prescribed other medicines and then polypharmacy complicates the problems further.
Affected patients are finding themselves with vague diagnoses eg: 'medically unexplained symptoms' or 'functional/somatic system disorders'. These are essentially psychiatric diagnoses attributing various debilitating and disabling physical symptoms to patients' own anxiety, beliefs, etc. This has the effect of discounting, disempowering and demoralising these patients still further. If it cannot be acknowledged that patients can have sustained functional nervous system dysfunction and damage as a consequence of taking medicines 'as prescribed' (sometimes over many years), systemic medical learning and improvement is stifled and patients continue to be further harmed. Meanwhile the initial prescribing risks remain severely underestimated and misleading prescribing guidelines and 'best practice' advice is unchanged.

close quote / dyfyniad agos


Petition details

Petition Status: Closed by the Committee
Petition Start Date: 24/08/2017
Open until midday on: 28/11/2017


Petition Signatories

Total signatures: 213

Name Constituency or Area of residence Date
Dr Peter J Gordon Stirlingshire, Scotland1300GACABLE 28/11/2017
Andy D'Alessio Cornwall U.K. 28/11/2017
John stone London 27/11/2017
William Nelson New York, USA 26/11/2017
Anonymous Scotland 26/11/2017
Shane Royston Cooke Vale of Clwyd 25/11/2017
Mr R W Ebley Aberavon 25/11/2017
Shirley Smith Warwickshire 25/11/2017
Peter John Sanders Brecon and Radnorshire 24/11/2017
Joanne Beavan Matcher Cardiff South and Penarth 23/11/2017
Gareth Robert Davies Neath 23/11/2017
Beverley Thorpe Scotland 23/11/2017
Isabel dos Santos Worcester 23/11/2017
F. M. Byrne Vale of Glamorgan 23/11/2017
Camille Humphrey Dorking 23/11/2017
Richard Hassall Knaresborough, N. Yorkshire 23/11/2017
Anonymous Norwich UK 23/11/2017
Anonymous Alberta, Canada 22/11/2017
rehana saeed London 22/11/2017
Erica Cleverly Devon 22/11/2017
Lidia Szypulski Parlin, NJ 08879 21/11/2017
Anonymous Galashiels 20/11/2017
Elizabeth Scala Ohio, USA 20/11/2017
Anonymous Gloucestershire 20/11/2017
Elizabeth Wright Brisbane, Australia 20/11/2017

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