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The Tranquilliser Trap
Panorama, BBC1, Sunday 13 May, 2001

Response by Janet Kerr
May 14, 2001

Dear BBC

I would like to reiterate and emphasise all that Stan Coombes of Horsham wrote in his email. There is so much the public wasn't told in the programme last night.

Your Panorama producer and reporter have a history in Scotland of not understanding addiction, dependence, withdrawal or its aftermath. Is there no one at the BBC with enough perception to do a proper in depth programme on benzodiazepine addiction, the devastation it is causing to lives, marriages and families, the amazing difficulty of withdrawing completely, and the hidden cost to the NHS and to Society.

  • Benzodiazepine addicts are scared to relate mental problems to their GPs for fear of being locked away!

  • Benzodiazepine addicts are scared to "cut down" because they know they can't function without tablets and think they won't get them!

  • Benzodiazepine addicts are scared to ask their GPs if their tablets are doing them harm for fear of them being stopped!

Fifty per cent of "heroin deaths" have Valium presence! Up to 80% of arrestees have Valium presence! Benzo-babies (50,000 annually – 1000 babies every week, every year, year on year)!

It is so hard to believe or understand why MPs and The Medical Profession are still allowing it to happen!

Benzodiazepines cross the placenta causing withdrawal, dyslexia, dyspraxia, addictive personalities and much more!

Cocktails of drugs are being prescribed to counteract the side effects of benzodiazepines mistakenly diagnosed and treated as new "illnesses"! If you are addicted they are effects not just "side effects"!

My GP finds it sufficient to prescribe a course of 8x2mg Valium for anxiety and that only in a crisis. The BNF guidelines indicate up to 30mg per day for a maximum period of 2-4 weeks. In the light of today's knowledge which is the more realistic? Does anyone recall the programme mentioning that the 2-4 weeks included tapering down to help reduce the effects of withdrawal!

Many people in their 30s, 40s and 50s have now worked out that prescribed chemicals killed their parents and/or grandparents!

The hidden cost to the world and its peoples in physical, mental, emotional and financial terms is inestimable!

It could all have been prevented – if only they'd
listened 40 years ago! Are they listening now?

If someone will ask/answer the following questions we shall all surely have a fuller picture of what is really going on:

  • On any given day what percentage of consultations, hospital beds and operations is dedicated to patients who are on benzodiazepine prescriptions?

  • How many young people use street purchased Valium (normally 70-100mg a day) and are therefore as yet unregistered?

  • Exactly who is warning children of the inherent dangers of taking these drugs?

  • What percentage of children being given Ritalin are Benzo-babies or are already on other drugs?

  • How many rent rebate or income support claimants are on long term prescribed medication?

  • How many alcoholics who went for help in the last 10 years are now Valium addicts? How many Heroin addicts who went for help are now Methadone or Valium addicts?

  • Why are BNF (British National Formulary) guidelines not mandatory and strictly enforced under penalty?

  • In the past year how many repeat prescription patients had their medication "reviewed" as laid down in the "guidelines"?

  • Why isn't it compulsory to test for benzodiazepines in all cases of suicide?

  • Why isn't it compulsory to test for benzodiazepines in the case of all violent and aggressive acts?

  • Why isn't it compulsory to test for benzodiazepines in road and workplace accidents?

  • The whole truth is yet to come and if anyone at the BBC still thinks that they have public service duty and is prepared to investigate the scope of benzodiazepine damage and the real cost to the community properly, good and well, alternatively, my husband and I will be happy to make a more definitive programme for you for nothing.

Yours faithfully,

Janet Kerr

Why don't any programmes on the subject of Benzodiazepines shown on the television tell the story of those/us that are left with the horrendous withdrawal effects for years after full withdrawal from these drugs. There are as many as 300 plus withdrawal symptoms that can occur and most have a very extreme effect on the individual and some are life threatening. The depression is so severe that very many of these involuntary addicts commit suicide because of the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Why doesn't the programme that you portray as supposedly for and to help the people of this country show the devastation caused by these drugs and not the pathetic description of addiction that was shown last night on your Panorama programme?

Stan Coombes

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