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Oldham Chronicle
September 30, 2003
by Janice Barker

Barry Haslam
Long struggle
to pay off

Tranquilliser campaigner Barry Haslam has the ear of Government this autumn with the chance to put his views to two ministries.

Mr Haslam, from Uppermill, founded the Beat the Benzos charity after beating his own addiction to Ativan.

Now his personal experiences and his years of research have been used to write a submission to the Home Office's Advisory Council on the misuse of drugs.

The paper, co-written with Michael Behan, another director of the charity, will be studied by the advisory council members in early November.

Mr Haslam will also meet with the health minister Rosie Winterton, on October 14, to press for a pilot project for the treatment and withdrawal of tranquilliser addicts to be set up in Oldham.

In the submission to the Home Office advisory group, Mr Haslam and Mr Behan argue that licences were granted too easily for benzodiazepines back in the 1960s and 1970s.

This, combined with lower levels of safety information for UK prescribers, has led to between 1.2 and 1.9 million long term benzodiazepine users who have become involuntary addicts, they say.

Babies born to benzo-using mothers also suffer health risks, and the tranquillisers are also being used illegally with other Class A drugs.

They propose a 13-point plan to identify and treat users, provide education, make prescribing guidelines mandatory, carry out research into long-term effects of the drugs, and introduce a no-fault compensation scheme.

Mr Haslam said: "We certainly now seem to have the ear of the Government. The prime movers will be the Home Office and Department of Health and we are now talking to both of them."

Media Archive · Beat The Benzos Campaign

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