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Oldham Chronicle
August 3, 2006

Barry Haslam

An all-party Parliamentary group has been set up to fight for better treatment for tranquilliser addicts.

The group will host a reception at the House of Commons and has been formed after action by local campaigner Barry Haslam.

Mr Haslam, who campaigns for addicts of prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines, runs the Beat the Benzos helpline with Londoner Mick Behan.

Together they will be at the House of Commons on November 7 when 20 MPs will host a reception to raise awareness of the lack of treatment for addicts.

The group's chairman is Heywood and Middleton MP Jim Dobbin, the secretary is John Grogan, MP for Selby, and it includes 10 Labour members, six Conservatives and four Liberal Democrats.

None of the three Oldham MPs has joined the group yet, but Mr Haslam said Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher will be at the reception.

The speaker will be Professor Heather Ashton, an authority on benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal.

Mr Haslam, from Uppermill, said: "We are trying to achieve a meeting with the chairman of the Health Select Committee in the Commons, with a view to looking into the lack of services for benzo addicts.

"We are trying to tackle one issue at a time, and the first is where are the services?

"As far as I know there are only two NHS-funded withdrawal clinics in the UK - one in Oldham and one in North Wales.

"We hope the group will be a pressure group in the House of Commons."

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