I know this is a day later than usual but I wanted to listen to the Radio 5 Live pod cast on this subject first. The subject, over prescription of addictive drugs. Notably the drugs which come under the heading of Benzodiazepines, more commonly known as Benzo’s. There are many different brand names for these drugs and they are given for a multitude of problems. These problems range from anxiety, insomnia, pain and even tinnitus to name but a few. The problem with Benzo’s is they are more addictive than Heroine and so NICE guidelines state they should only be prescribed for 2 to 4 weeks maximum. The problem is, is that there a many people who have been taking Benzo’s for more than 6 month. Some people who contacted the show were telling stories of being on Benzo’s for up to fifty years. One caller was addicted twice having got herself off them the first time. She got herself off them by going to a private clinic, at a cost of £7000, because she suffered very bad withdrawal and her GPs answer was to stay on them. Once off them she suffered a re-occurrence of her illness and thought that Benzo’s might help. After her first addiction her GP said no but a psychiatrist wrote the prescription and she became hooked again. This time it led to her stealing from her husband to buy them online and even turning to alcohol. Dr James Davis from Roehampton University has studied these drugs and their side effects and estimates that there is around 250,000 people addicted to Benzo’s in the UK. There seems to be a lack of understanding from most GPs as to how dangerous these drugs are. Unfortunately we seem to have a culture among our GPs that they will prescribe these drugs for a short time but when the patient returns and says they worked great and requests more the GP gives them more instead of finding an alternative treatment. Add to that, that there is a lack of support from the NHS to help people addicted to Benzo’s.
For some of the conditions Benzo’s are used for hypnotherapy can be a great drug free alternative. Hypnotherapy has been used successfully to help people with issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, tinnitus and yes even addiction to name but a few. In short, a better way to use these medicines would be to prescribe them for the recommended short period of time but also refer the patient to a hypnotherapist for longer term help. That way the hypnotherapy can start while the Benzo’s are of benefit without being addictive. Doctors must stand their ground and refuse to re-prescribe them for longer than four weeks even if the patient refuses hypnotherapy. If they are re-prescribed there has to be a break between prescriptions, we can’t keep turning people who ask for help into drug addicts. The misuse of Benzo’s is costing the NHS millions and individuals their lives, turning them into drug addicts with a government approved dealer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hypnotherapy is not an alternative to modern medicine but it can complement it brilliantly.