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For more information contact:
Barry Haslam: 01457 876355, Facsimile: 01457 876361
Michael Behan: 020 8743 3456, Facsimile: 020 8740 7340
Email: Mick Behan


The Beat The Benzos Parliamentary Reception and Early Day Motion Launch was held in the Terrace Marquee at the House of Commons on November 18, 2002.

Speakers: Phil Woolas MP, John Grogan MP, Sir Sydney Chapman MP, Miss Caroline Moore, Solicitor.

"The story of Benzodiazepines is of awesome proportions and has been described as a national scandal. The impact is so large that it is too big for governments, regulatory authorities and the pharmaceutical industry to address head on, so the scandal has been swept under the carpet." - Phil Woolas MP, Parliamentary Debate, December 7, 1999.


In the United Kingdom today there are 1.2 million people who are involuntarily addicted to Benzodiazepine drugs. A well-documented omission of warnings during the 1970s and 1980s, relating to the toxicity and addictive nature of the drug led to the creation of an initial group of addicts. However the current levels of addiction, with new addicts being added daily, demonstrates that there is still a failure to understand the dangers of these drugs.

The addict community is generally unaware that their addiction is the source of the problems they face.

The United Kingdom's medical community was led during the 1970s and 1980s into believing the drug were safe for widespread use. It was only in the late 1980s and early 1990s that the some of dangers associated with the drug were formally published in the UK.

By the end of the year 2001 there were, according to Government statistics, more than 1.2 million involuntary Benzodiazepine addicts in the UK. Other sources estimate the number to be 1.9 million. During the years of 1990 to 1996 there were 1810 deaths in the UK where Benzodiazepines were the cause of death. In any one of those years the deaths due to Benzodiazepine exceeded the deaths due to either Class A or Class B drugs. Additionally, Benzodiazepines induce suicidal ideation, which causes further deaths in which Benzodiazepines are not the instrument of suicide.

Despite the now improved warnings of the potency of these drugs, GPs are currently writing 17 million prescriptions per year for Benzodiazepines. The manufacturers datasheets themselves now say that Benzodiazepines should be prescribed for no more than two to four weeks. The drugs are routinely prescribed by repeat prescription for years on end.

While a few local organisations exist on a voluntary basis to assist withdrawal, there is no organised nationwide support programme. While parliamentary concern seems extensive, there is no appropriate government policy on Benzodiazepines. There is a continued introduction of patients into the addiction cycle.

In summary, in the United Kingdom today there still exists a high level of inappropriate prescribing, while in the patient community there is little understanding of the drug, difficulty of withdrawal, or coping with the symptoms the drug produces.


Beat The Benzos objective is to relieve poverty; sickness and distress among those persons affected by addiction to prescribed Benzodiazepine drugs. Beat The Benzos will work to raise awareness of the scale of the problem, attempt to predict the likely future implications for addicts, and quantify the social cost.

We intend to raise funds and support; to establish assisted withdrawal programs. We propose to establish centres that can deliver an assisted process for drug-free withdrawal, based on the work of Professor Heather Ashton.

To raise awareness we will work on two fronts - inside the medical community to enhance the knowledge of the toxicity and addictive nature of the drug, and also with the addicts themselves to encourage safe withdrawal. Our longer-term focus is the establishment of an internationally recognised programme, which will continue to assist addicts and clinical professionals.

We will also sponsor research into long term damage caused by addiction to Benzodiazepine drugs, and attempt to establish the origins of this significant problem.

The business plan for Beat The Benzos will outline an initial period during which further research and programme development must occur. Towards the end of this initial period, the results and data obtained will allow a formal programme to be established. We will seek Governmental and European funding to help us reach this stage.

The results will identify the social cost to the UK of the 1.2 million people unable to function and contribute to the economy.

"The Board requests governments of countries with high levels of consumption of Benzodiazepine and their increasing abuse to conduct, in co-operation with nongovernmental organisations involved with treatment and rehabilitation, comprehensive surveys to determine the size of the population abusing and using these substances. There are indications that some doctors prescribe Benzodiazepine for unnecessarily long periods and for symptoms that may not require such treatment. The board invites the Governments of countries in Europe to raise the awareness of medical practitioners of the need to use those substances in a more rational manner." - The International Narcotics Central Board, World Health Organisation, 1998.

For further information:

Barry Haslam: 01457 876355, Facsimile: 01457 876361
Michael Behan: 020 8743 3456, Facsimile: 020 8740 7340
Email: Mick Behan

Beat The Benzos Campaign 2002

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