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Oldham Chronicle
December 29, 2008

ONE man's relentless fight against the misery caused by addiction to prescribed tranquillisers has made it to the door of the Government's Work and Pensions secretary James Purnell.

Uppermill campaigner Barry Haslam has won the support of Heywood and Middleton MP Jim Dobbin, chairman of an all-party group on involuntary tranquilliser addiction.

And Mr Dobbin has written to Mr Purnell, highlighting Oldham's nurse/counsellor - one of only two in the country - as an example of vital services needed to help people stop taking drugs prescribed to them by their doctors, which are ruining their lives.

There are 1.5 million involuntary tranquilliser addicts in the UK, who depend on benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium, Ativan and Librium and also the "Z" drugs, such as zopiclone and zimovane.

Their addiction stems from repeat prescribing of drugs intended for only short-term use, of up to four weeks.

The result is long-term physical and mental damage, often with reliance on long-term incapacity benefits.

Mr Dobbin told the Secretary of State the problems for prescribed drug users are completely ignored in planned welfare reforms, leaving them with no road back to work.

He added: "While heroin and other voluntary illicit drug addicts are provided with withdrawal facilities, rehabilitation and a treatment allowance, involuntary tranquilliser addicts are left to fend for themselves."

Mr Dobbin wants Government-funded specialist withdrawal facilities, and said "a few thousand pounds per patient can save years of addiction and reliance on benefits, as well as alleviating the human misery of addicts, families and friends."

Calling for the move to be included in reforms, he said not only would there be considerable savings for the taxpayer, but prescribed drug addicts would be glad of the chance to return to work and lead a normal life.

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