Great Britain rises American-style opioid crisis, as FIVE million adults receive prescriptions for highly addictive drugs every year, government health agency reveals
- Five million adults a year receive prescriptions for addictive painkillers
- Public Health England carried out the study where ‘alarming’ results were found
- Health Minister Matt Hancock described the findings as ‘shocking’
- Opioids are dangerously addictive and can be fatal, but are used to treat chronic pain
An ‘alarming’ number of adults are addicted to dangerously addictive prescribed opioids.
Five million adults a year receive prescriptions for pain killers in Great Britain, one in eight of the population dependent on medication.
Ministers commissioned an investigation into the extent of the addiction, fearing an American-style opioid crisis, with the UK using the third fastest-growing opioid rate.
According to Health Minister Matt Hancock, the findings were “shocking” with more than 40 million prescriptions per year The Sunday Times.
The public health study in England showed that 540,000 people have been taking opioids for at least three years, despite the advice that the pills should only be taken for days or weeks.
Five million adults a year receive prescriptions for opioids in Great Britain, with one in eight of the population dependent on medicines
The findings were considered “serious” and “frankly alarming,” according to sources familiar with the PHE study.
Mr. Hancock said: “We have seen the devastating opioid addiction in America and I am determined to tackle it immediately before it continues here.
“Painkillers play an important role in pain relief, but if not used properly, they can destroy lives.”
In April, the Health Secretary announced plans to introduce ‘cigarette-like’ warnings on opioid packaging to tackle addiction.
Health Minister Matt Hancock announced plans for ‘cigarette-like’ packaging on opioid packaging in April
A development of guidelines for general practitioners about prescribing opioids and how to relieve patients has been announced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence watchdog, but medical organizations and patients say more needs to be done.
PHE is expected to reveal the degree of dependence on other prescription drugs, such as anti-anxiety drugs and recommendations to address the issue when it publishes its report this week.
British Medical Association, Dr. Andrew Green, said, “We need significant investment in support services to enable patients and GPs to manage dependencies.”
Dr. Green added that there was an urgent need to help patients struggling with an addiction.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence watchdog will announce a set of guidelines for GPS for prescribing opioids
Opiods produce morphine-like effects and are prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain
They block pain signals between the brain and the body and common opioids are coedine and tramadol.
Opioids have been used effectively to treat cancer, but prescriptions on the NHS for long-term pain have skyrocketed in the last decade.