City doctors discourage benzo use

A Londonderry doctors' practice is discouraging the use of certain anti-anxiety drugs warning of their addictive potential.
A Londonderry doctors' practice is discouraging the use of certain anti-anxiety drugs warning of their addictive potential.

A LONDONDERRY doctors’ practice is discouraging patients from using certain anti-anxiety and sleep disorder drugs and has published information on how to cope without them.

Quayside Medical Practice has published a range of literature suggesting how to manage withdrawal from Benzodiazepines and how to manage anxiety and sleep problems without resorting to them

The practice refers patients to an article on ‘Stopping Benzodiazepines and Z Drugs’ that states: “If you have been taking a benzodiazepine or Z drug long-term (for more than four weeks) then it can be difficult to stop it because of withdrawal effects.”

The Patient UK article suggests: “One method is to switch whatever medicine you are on to an equivalent dose of diazepam. You can then gradually reduce the dose of diazepam at a pace that suits you.

“This keeps any withdrawal effects to a minimum. The dose reduction is commonly done over several months before coming off diazepam completely.”

Benzodiazepines are a group of medicines that are sometimes used to treat anxiety.

Patient UK says there is “a good chance that you will become dependent on a benzodiazepine or Z drug if you take it for more than four weeks.”

“This means that withdrawal symptoms occur if the tablets are stopped suddenly. In effect, you need the medicine to feel ‘normal,’” it says.

The Sentinel has previously reported on the addictive problems presented by benzodiazepines, which as well as being prescribed legitimately, are also sold illegally on the black market.

In 2009/10, 13 per cent of 576 clients who contacted Substitute Prescribing treatment services across Northern Ireland contacted them in the Western Trust.

Seventy-two people here were being prescribed substitute drugs to wean them off a variety of substances, including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines, cannabis, codeine and paracetamol.

Heroin was the most commonly reported main drug of misuse in the area with 51 per cent of clients addicted.

This was followed by Other Opiates (33 per cent), Cannabis (32 per cent), Benzodiazepines (25 per cent), Codeine/Paracetamol (25 per cent), Dihydrocodeine (21 per cent), Methadone/Buprenorphine (13 per cent) and Other Drugs (13 per cent).