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GIVE US MONEY TO BEAT BENZOS,
CAMPAIGNER DEMANDS

Oldham Chronicle
February 12, 2004
by Samantha Myers

An Oldham campaigner says Government officials should put their money where their mouths are when talking about the massive problem of tranquilliser addiction.

Barry Haslam, founder of the Beat the Benzos pressure group, hit out after hearing that the chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, has warned GPs they are prescribing too many tranquillisers.

And while he welcomed Sir Liam's comments, Mr Haslam said there needs to be a lot less talking and more action to deal with the problem of prescription drug addiction.

It comes as the Government prepares to introduce new restrictions on the use of common tranquillisers, such as Temazepam, Valium and Librium, to stop people becoming addicted.

Phil Woolas, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, and a director of the Beat the Benzos campaign, said: "This is good news.

"The Beat the Benzos campaign is a gift to the country from determined Oldhamers such as Barry Haslam and we keep chipping away.

"This latest breakthrough comes on the back of national publicity generated by the campaign. These drugs are responsible for more pain, unhappiness and damage than anything else in our society."

Mr Haslam, who says he lost 10 years of his life because of being prescribed these drugs, says the Government needs to provide money to help addicts and former addicts.

He said: "We are getting there in Oldham. From April the Primary Care Trust will give 48,000 of its budget to provide a service for benzodiazepine addicts.

"And while this is great news, it will only pay for help for 200 people in a year - and there are around 5,200 benzo addicts in Oldham."

More than 1.25 million people in the UK may be addicted to benzodiazepine drugs, commonly known by names like Temazepam, Valium and Librium.

Sir Liam has accused some GPs of ignoring 15-year-old guidance that these drugs should only be prescribed for a month at a time, and then only to people with distressing symptoms of anxiety.

The Department of Health confirmed this week that it plans to introduce instalment dispensing of the tranquillisers to minimise excessive doses.

And doctors failing to observe the clinical guidelines can face disciplinary action.


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