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AD AIMS TO WIN INQUIRY INTO DRUGS

Oldham Chronicle
February 26, 2007

by Janice Barker

OLDHAM people are being urged to get behind a call for a full government inquiry into addiction to prescription drugs.

A 1,000 advertisement has been placed in tonight's Chronicle by Barry Haslam of the Beat the Benzos campaign, which is backed by a benefactor in the south of England.

Mr Haslam, who also runs Oldham's Tranx group for addicts of prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines, and helped set up Oldham's first withdrawal service, has campaigned for government help for more than 10 years.

In the latest publicity he is urging people to support a call for a Commons Health Select Committee inquiry into what he calls these highly addictive and toxic drugs.

Oldham has 5,000 long-term addicts of the prescription drug benzodiazepine.

The advertisement comes ahead of a meeting of the all-party tranquilliser addiction group with the chairman of the Health Select Committee, Kevin Barron MP, on March 5.

Mr Haslam is urging readers to support the call for an inquiry by cutting out the page and sending it to Mr Barron at the House of Commons.

He said: "We are trying to get someone right at the heart of Government to stand up and be counted. This has gone on for far too long and destroyed too many lives.

"Our benefactor is a businessman who has witnessed addiction to legally prescribed drugs first-hand, and is still injured as a result.

"I want it to achieve two things: for the people of Oldham to back a full inquiry, and to initiate a meeting with MPs so that things can get as far as Cabinet level."

Mr Haslam, who fought addiction to Ativan for 10 years, quotes Oldham East MP Phil Woolas in the advertisement.

Today, Mr Woolas, the Local Government Minister, said: "I am hopeful that we will get the social exclusion unit in the Cabinet Office to report on this proposal.

"What Barry is saying is absolutely right. In my case work, people come with all sorts of problems, but when you scratch the surface you find they area suffering from addiction and can't hold their life together."

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