During the recent period of UK press reporting on significant news, Brexit, Chilcot etc. you may just have missed that the Guardian and other UK newspapers published articles on a doubling of antidepressant prescriptions in the last decade. This is a huge health issue that deserves greater acknowledgement, recognition and action
World Benzodiazepine Awareness day on Monday 11 July was established to draw attention to the negative impact of the widespread use of benzodiazepines and similar psychoactive drugs.
The campaign was started some time ago in Oldham by Barry Haslam who suffered through long term use of benzodiazepines. He was a founding member and Chair of the Oldham Tranx peer support group. Drawing on his experiences he has highlighted the damaging and lasting effects that involuntary addiction can have on physical and mental health. His campaigning has helped lead to the setting up of a dedicated local withdrawal drug service, one of only a few in the UK.
The campaign has spread to a number of countries. Supported by activists, many of whom have suffered the ill effects of these drugs; it is rapidly growing to become a significant global movement for change.
Barry as Chair of World Benzo Awareness Day, and fellow campaigners around the world, are passionate and unequivocal in their position; and, as such, have challenged elements of the medical establishment. Their demands are:
- To gain governmental and medical recognition that doctor-induced benzodiazepine dependency is a massive global problem that needs urgent addressing
- To raise public awareness about this decades old problem that has been continuously swept under the carpet by global governments
- To encourage the establishment of a mandatory maximum prescribing period of no more than 4 weeks
- To encourage the establishment of specialized withdrawal facilities for those who so desperately need them
- To encourage the implementation of the much needed fully funded research to thoroughly investigate the long term health implications of prescribed benzodiazepines and z drugs
- To encourage the provision of proper training for doctors and medical staff and to help them learn more about the serious implications of benzodiazepines.
- To provide victims with a sense of purpose and the opportunity to unify, so that they aren’t left alone in the dark, as has been the case for much too long
- To give recognition to those who haven’t survived and to those who have been abandoned; left alone to suffer.
You can find out much more about the campaign, and how to support it, on the following links: