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Northwich Guardian
July 30, 2003

Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich residents who are addicted to prescription drugs could help to prevent others coming to harm.

More than 1.2 million people in Britain are long-term addicts of drugs said to be more dangerous and addictive than heroin.

Benzodiazepines such as Valium, temazepan, Librium and Ativan are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and relieve muscle spasms.

Taking them for more than a few weeks can cause physical dependence. Side effects include insomnia, anxiety, drowsiness and increased aggression.

Now, after working with charity 'Beat the Benzos', Northwich MEP Chris Davies has secured the backing of the European Parliament for action to be taken.

Brussels officials will be conducting a survey of victims and their families, and they want to hear the comments and suggestions of addicts in the area.

Barry Haslam, a founder member of Beat the Benzos and a former benzo addict, said: "British doctors were misled by the drug manufacturers during the 1970s and 1980s into believing these drugs were safe for widespread use."

From 1990-96 Benzos killed 1,810 people in Britain, almost 1,500 more than those who died from heroin-related problems.

Benzos also induce suicidal thoughts and may have accounted for many more deaths by other methods.

Mr Davies said: "At last recognition is being paid to the thousands of silent addicts in this country and across Europe.

"Their shared experiences will be vital when compiling these guidelines."

Barry Haslam is collating addict responses for the European Commission.

Media Archive · Beat The Benzos Campaign

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