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APPG for Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction

Letter from Jim Dobbin MP to the Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP,
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,
May 28, 2012

The Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street
London SW1H 9DA

28 May 2012

Dear Iain,

I am writing to you in my capacity as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction (APPGITA) with regard to the reported intention of the DWP to introduce a requirement for benefit claimants who are addicted to drugs to enrol for addiction treatment programmes. I would like to draw your attention to the existence of an estimated 1.5 million NHS patients who are addicted to prescribed tranquillisers and have no access to an appropriate drug treatment programme. Tranquillisers such as diazepam are highly addictive and toxic and patients can become addicted through following the instructions of their doctor. No specialised withdrawal services are provided by the NHS for this form of addiction and patients who are strongly addicted are left with no exit route from their addiction.

Tranquillisers are extremely toxic and can produce a wide range of physical and psychological side effects, these can be disabling and render the person incapable of work. We believe there is a large correlation between addiction to prescribed tranquillisers and the uptake of benefits. Unfortunately there are no official statistics collected to inform policy in this area.

Our knowledge is that involuntary tranquilliser addicts are not drug misusers, they are ordinary people who would like to have the opportunity to escape from their addiction and return to work. Unfortunately the Department of Health continues to refuse to provide treatment for this iatrogenic illness despite intensive lobbying by the APPGITA for the last three years. We believe the Department of Health is badly advised on this subject and is preoccupied with psychological theories and maintenance prescribing.

A solution to tranquilliser addiction is available in the slow tapering method designed by Professor Heather Ashton of Newcastle University and successfully practiced by several small clinics. The treatment is a drug free treatment which results in complete abstinence, it has a success rate of 80% plus and is extremely cost effective.

There is a further similar problem of addiction to prescribed antidepressants which is estimated to effect 3 million people in the UK. These are both worsening problems with tranquilliser prescriptions increasing by 3% and antidepressants by 8% in this years statistics. In addition to the personal misery and damage to patients health we believe the hidden problem of addiction to prescribed medication has a significant detrimental effect on the workforce, the benefits system and the larger economy.

I would like to suggest that you meet with Earl Sandwich, Eric Ollerenshaw MP and myself to discuss this important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Dobbin MP

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