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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: Collecting signatures
Petition Start Date: 24/08/2017
Open until midday on: 28/11/2017
Principal Petitioner(s) Stevie Lewis


25 most recent signatures

Total signatures: 150

Name Constituency or Area of residence Date
Martin Palmer Ogmore 18/10/2017
Jill Kesti Ontonagon, Mi, United States 18/10/2017
Dr Alison Tierney Bristol 18/10/2017
Alison Farrell Bordon 18/10/2017
Bradley Glynn Woking 18/10/2017
Stephen John Bailey Worcestershire, England 18/10/2017
Maria Quick Swansea West 16/10/2017
emma quick Swansea East 16/10/2017
Luke Montagu London 15/10/2017
Anonymous Bridgend 13/10/2017
Anonymous Norfolk 13/10/2017
Pamela .Wilson N.Ireland 12/10/2017
L De Souza Bristol 11/10/2017
R A Lasebikan Cardiff South and Penarth 11/10/2017
Anonymous Southsea, Hants 11/10/2017
Lucy Murray Oxfordshire, UK 11/10/2017
Anonymous Edinburgh 11/10/2017
Gary Sidley Lancashire, England 11/10/2017
Hannah Jewell Carmarthen East and Dinefwr 11/10/2017
Melanie Davis London UK 11/10/2017
Joanna Jasmine Bristol 11/10/2017
Tina Sayer Cardiff North 11/10/2017
Anonymous Cardiff South and Penarth 11/10/2017
Anonymous Hampshire 11/10/2017
Martin Harris Ceredigion 11/10/2017

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