Minister of State for Public Health visits Oldham to discuss prescription drug issues
On Thursday the 14th of June the Minister of State for Public Health Anne Milton MP visited Oldham to meet various key people associated with the treatment of prescription drug addiction and those who have suffered from debilitating effects of such addiction. The visit, organised by Barry Haslam the local champion for robust action on issues of long term prescription drug use and in conjunction with local addiction charity ADS (Addiction Dependency Solutions), was attended by Oldham Tranx members, the CEO of ADS Lady Rhona Bradley and the Director of Public Health in Oldham Alan Higgins. It was chaired by Debbie Abrahams MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.
ADS has been running a Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Service in Oldham since 2004 and worked with 120 clients during 2011-12. The service is delivered predominantly within 13 GP surgeries and was commissioned by the NHS in response to the high levels of prescribing in the borough. There are large geographical differences in the amount of benzodiazepines prescribed with the highest levels seen in the North West and with Oldham’s prescribing rates higher than both the national and regional rates. The service encourages a gradual reduction of medication to avoid as far as possible the severe and prolonged withdrawal symptoms that can result from abrupt cessation.
The aim of the visit was to discuss the issues and consequences of long term use of prescription drugs, which are extremely addictive and can result in dangerous side effects on people’s health. The severe nature of addiction to prescription drugs, particularly Benzodiazepines, is devastating lives through no initial fault of the patient, consequently costing the NHS millions of pounds. The issue needs more focus and attention and investment to highlight the plight of those addicted and ensure people in the future do not spiral into addiction.
The visit was a great success, leading to Barry Haslam (centre), the visit organiser and chair of Oldham Tranx, saying ‘I am incredibly pleased with how the event has gone and I hope we can build on this moving forward’, and the chair Debbie Abrahams (Front row right) MP declaring ‘the visit has highlighted the importance of raising the awareness of prescription drug addiction within Oldham and nationally’.
Anne Milton MP (Front row left) said ‘Addiction Dependency Solutions is an excellent example of an organisation providing treatment for those suffering from the troubling effects of addiction. Prescription drug addiction is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed and days like this help inform the debate’.
Lady Rhona Bradley (Back row right), Chief Executive of ADS, added, ‘The ADS Oldham Benzo provides a great service, which helps people who, when given the right support, can move forward in a positive way. Those who come into our service greatly benefit from our staff’s expertise and help, and this proves that when such addictions are treated with care and caution people’s lives can move forward, however, the awareness and funding of prescription drug addiction needs to be improved to reach everyone. It is important that charities like ADS continually highlight serious issues to the Government that are happening in communities up and down the UK’.