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Oldham Chronicle
April 15, 2004
by Janice Barker

Barry Haslam

Health and medical experts will unite in Oldham next week to fight against addiction to legally prescribed drugs.

The Benzodiazepine Drug Conference at the Avant Hotel, will bring together doctors, drug workers, pharmacists, nurses, campaigners and police.

Oldham is running a pilot project providing withdrawal and support services to addicts, funded by the Primary Care Trust and operated by Oldham's Alcohol and Drugs Service.

The conference has been organised by tranquilliser campaigner Barry Haslam, founder of the Beat the Benzos campaign and Oldham Tranx group which supports addicts, and Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas.

Mr Woolas said: "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."

Speakers include Heather Ashton, the Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psycho-Pharmacology at Newcastle University.

Oldham has 5,200 long-term benzodiazepine addicts, and Mr Haslam has been fighting for better treatment for them since he successfully battled addiction to Ativan.

The drug left him brain damaged and unable to work. In August, 2000, he helped to organise the UK's first international conference on the drugs in London, with speakers from Canada, Australia, America, South Africa and Belgium.

Other speakers at next week's conference are Gail Richards, Chief Executive of Oldham Primary Care Trust, Susan Bibby from Benzact, community psychiatric nurse David McKeown from Northern Ireland, Gwen Higham, manager of Oldham's Alcohol and Drugs Service, and Alan Higgins Oldham's Director of Public Health.

See: Conference Agenda and News Release

Media Archive · Beat The Benzos Campaign

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