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Oldham Chronicle
December 19, 2002
by Janice Barker

A campaign to get better treatment for victims of addiction to prescribed drugs is being raised at the European Parliament in the New Year.

Oldham's Liberal Democrat Euro-MP Chris Davies has tabled an amendment to recommendations for new laws aimed at reducing risks of drug dependence.

And although they are mainly aimed at people hooked on hard and illegal drugs, he has asked European Ministers to include support for patients suffering long-term withdrawal symptoms or permanent injuries from drugs such as benzodiazepines.

Mr Davies said: "We are proposing guidelines for best practice in dealing with drug dependency and they are very progressive. For once they do not talk about criminal sanctions but the whole policy of harm reduction. I realised this may be an opportunity for raising the issue of benzodiazepines. I have tabled 20 amendments myself including one on the problems of addiction to prescribed drugs. If they are accepted, these will be recommendations from the Council of Ministers to the European Commission, although we can't guarantee they will become law. If they do they will apply across Europe. The figures are quite clear that the number of people who die from tranquillisers and other prescribed drugs such as sleeping pills, which fall in the benzodiazepine category, is greater than the number of people who die from illegal drugs. Clearly there are matters of common interest across Europe - we all visit doctors and generally use the same drugs."

Mr Davies, who lives in Greenfield, consulted local benzo addiction campaigner Mr Barry Haslam, of Uppermill, before drawing up his amendment.

Mr Haslam welcomed his intervention and added: "He is working on my behalf and millions of others. It is looking good."

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