Scottish and Welsh Parliaments Debate Psychiatric Drug Dependence and Withdrawal
Over the last decade, the UK has seen dramatic increases in the number of people prescribed psychiatric drugs. In the British National Formulary, the prescribers bible, Chapter 4 represents Central Nervous System drugs including antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, antiepileptics and sedatives. The total numbers prescribed have increased by 50% across the whole chapter from 138 million in 2007 to 208 million items in 2017.
Both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have been debating the issues surrounding the overuse of psychiatric drugs. They have been encouraged into action by petitions launched by those with lived experience and therapists who have witnessed first-hand the terrible difficulty that some people can have coming off psychiatric drugs.
The Welsh Assembly published their report on March 21st. Among the ten specific recommendations is the need for greater recognition to be given to prescription drug dependence at a national level in both policy and strategy. In addition, they commit to investigate, as a priority, the potential for national rollout of a Prescribed Medication Support Service in order to ensure that specific advice and support is available for people who require assistance with prescription medication.
The Welsh petitioner, Stevie Lewis, responding to publication of the Welsh Assembly’s report said: “The Welsh public petitions process has turned out to be truly democratic and empowering. All those who provided evidence to my petition were listened to with attention and respect. The committee has taken seriously my contention that we need to be able to hold as true two apparently conflicting beliefs about antidepressants at the same time, namely that they can help people and also that they can harm people. And once a patient has been harmed by any drug that causes dependence and withdrawal, there are no nationwide NHS services in place to guide and support their recovery. I look forward to hearing the Welsh Government debate this issue in the Senedd.”
In Scotland, the petitioning process has yet to reach reporting status. At its most recent meeting, the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee agreed to defer further consideration of the petition until after the Scottish Government Short Life Working Group (SLWG) on prescription medicine dependence and withdrawal has reported its recommendations (due in 2019). The petition Committee has been urged to request that: “the full evidence of this petition … be taken into account by the SLWG as formal evidence of Experts by Experience”.
The Petitions Committee received an astonishing number of written testimonies from people reporting severe symptoms when stopping psychiatric drugs and full evidence is published online. A collated ‘Voice of the patient’ report has been compiled from Scottish and Welsh Petition evidence and submitted for the Public Health England review.
Marion Brown (Scottish petitioner) said “due to the absence of research into the real-life outcomes for patients, I believe that this published patient experience evidence is unique and immensely important. I thank all those who have contributed and the Petitions clerks for their work in processing the submissions, and trust that this will be fully taken into account as ‘Expert by experience’ evidence for the Short Life Working Group.”
General Practioner Doctor Noel Thomas, said: “After nearly four decades as a full-time valleys GP, followed by another decade of part time work, seeing patients from many different practices , I have become increasingly alarmed at the number of patients who take one or more psychoactive drugs, often for years, and often for reasons that are lost in the mists of time. Many people have never discussed whether they should stop, some have tried to stop and failed. Some would like to stop but are afraid to try. This report is a very encouraging initiative, but if good is to come of it, patients and doctors must be made aware of its reasoning and recommendations and be prepared to change.”
The actions taken by the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Government arise at a time when England has committed to a national, Government-led review that considers the support needed people affected by prescribed drugs associated with dependence and withdrawal.
These policy-level discussions and debates show clearly that we need a national conversation on the informed use of psychiatric prescription drugs and that a UK-wide strategy is required to respond to the issues of dependence and withdrawal that potentially affect millions of people.
For more information contact:
Stevie Lewis (Welsh Petitioner, Person with Lived Experience)
firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)7881 822566
Marion Brown (Scottish Petitioner, Therapist)
email@example.com [tel no.]
James Moore (Person with Lived Experience)
firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)7414 525 200, +44 (0)1291 760 948
James Moore Retweeted
BBC Wales Politics @WalesPolitics 3h
AMs said ministers had no strategy to deal with the problem
Scottish and Welsh Governments Debate Psychiatric Drug Dependence and Withdrawal
March 21 2019
James Moore @jf_moore 40m
More support and guidance should be available to patients using prescription drugs http://www.assembly.wales/en/newhome/pages/newsitem.aspx?itemid=1968 … via @AssemblyWales
Cyflwynwyd y ddeiseb hon gan Stevie Lewis, ar ôl casglu 213 o lofnodion ar-lein.
“Prescribing of psychoactive drugs is a major clinical activity and a key therapeutic tool for influencing the health of patients. But often their use can lead to a patient becoming dependent or suffering withdrawal symptoms. In the absence of robust data, we do not know the true scale and extent of the problem across the UK. However, the evidence and insight presented to us by many charity and support groups shows that it is substantial. It shows us that the ‘lived experience’ of patients using these medications is too often associated with devastating health and social harms. This represents a significant public health issue, one that is central to doctors’ clinical role, and one that the medical profession has a clear responsibility to help address.”
recovery&renewal @recover2renew 2h
Stevie’s BBC radio interview this morning:
Our thanks, as a nation as well as a family, should go to Stevie for her excellent work in pushing onwards with her petition. everything. We often hear that ‘everything Welsh applies only to South Wales but Stevie has made sure that the WHOLE of Wales has been included when gathering evidence to use to support her petition.
I most sincerely hope that Senedd now debate the issues with a sincere wish to provide better services for all in Wales who are in need of such.
One point which will be of great importance is knowledge-sharing of any new services should they be provided. So far, this is very poor up here in North Wales – we must improve so that we can make the best of what is on offer. When listening to Stevie at the Senedd at the end of last year, a N Wales service was praised – a service that we knew next to nothing about although its headquarters are a mere 15 miles away from us. It has been in existence for a good few years and is an NHS service dealing with prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal ( including ADs), patients being referred to the service by their doctors. I only found out about it when researching the area in search of services who may have clients who wished to join our withdrawal peer support group. I think I’m right in saying, David, that you hardly knew of their work either although you, too, work within the same Health Board. We cannot let this secrecy ( if that is what it is) continue – we are here to share every single service that can work to support in withdrawal.
Now, to our peer support group – we are still not gathering any ‘withdrawers’ whatsoever. When looking at the numbers it stands to reason that our area must have a fairly high number of AD users – are none of them in withdrawal? Is no one struggling in withdrawal? We have advertised the fact that we are there regularly within the local area – nothing, absolutely no one comes. Yet when we held an ‘open meeting’ (advertised under our group heading, we had around 50 people turn up. The majority were from our local area and they are now very helpful in taking the info about the group meetings out into neighbouring areas. But still no one turns up!
We will not give up. Maybe, if the response from Senedd is encouraging, we may find an interest in peer support too, suddenly? No harm in dreaming! We need ALL who work in the NHS and other areas of support to show a bit more ‘joined up thinking’ and show that a small country such as we are CAN be a leader IF WE CO-OPERATE.
Again, Stevie, thanks so much for all you have and continue to do – you fired us up and you can be sure of our continued support whenever it’s needed. Thanks also go to James, David, Aled (PAST) and all others who have been involved of course. As Stevie would surely say, this success has come because we’ve ALL worked together – long may it continue.
Further to my comment above, I’m ashamed to say that very little has been in the media about Stevie’s petition/Senedd following yesterday’s announcement. Nothing on BBC Wales or ITV nor S4C (Welsh language channel). BBC Wales online actually covered it. Today’s local daily paper has no coverage whatsoever. Had I not been informed by Stevie or happened to read here, I wouldn’t know a thing about it – and that’s with it happening IN MY OWN COUNTRY. That’s what we’re up against I guess – the usual MH stuff not worthy of a mention.
This lack of sharing the knowledge adds to my frustration when I think of the people who attended our open meeting, (many read the Mail last week and came up to me saying how the Mail article was saying “exactly what you’ve been saying for ages Mary”) who have been so helpful since the meeting and are sharing any knowledge that we share with them. They, too, LIVE IN WALES, but news about the petition points discussed in Senedd this week will have escaped them completely – until I round them up and share it with them. Stevie also came to our open meeting so this news is of interest to this group.
One positive to come out of this possibly, I suppose, is that it will prove, yet again, how very difficult it is to wake mainstream media to the fact that it is only by honest sharing that we can ever hope to come to grips with what is going on in the world of medicine – and how much suffering is brushed under the carpet as a result.
Just to let people at Rxisk know that another young person who went by the name of Zadig777 on the PSSD forum, has taken their own life. He was 23, and had PSSD. That is the third person with PSSD to take their own life in the last year. So sad.
John Read Retweeted
James Moore @jf_moore 43m
Replying to @ReadReadj
Time and time again, we are reassured that antidepressants and not the ‘first response’ and not for mild/moderate depression, yet the soaring number of prescriptions tells a different story. Either ADs are prescribed too quickly, or off-label prescribing is uncontrolled, or both
kiwi 29/03/2019 at 8:38 am #
imo ….This is TOTALLY due to the unimaginable horror and trauma inducing symptoms of abstinence that is … withdrawal.
No one can get off these drugs without a serious fight for their life.
As my pharmacist once confided in me …you deserve a medal for getting of paxil we have many people on our books taking this drug and they cant get off it.
Its a miracle i am still alive after the many years i had to hold on for before i made it to the other side.
oh yeah lets not forget the behind the scenes pharma prescribing kickbacks to doctors …that would no doubt cause an uptick in ssri addicts!
Prof Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “For many people antidepressants can be lifesaving,
Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Prescribing is a core skill for GPs, and we will only prescribe medication to a patient after a full and frank discussion with them,
Prof Stokes-Lampard said that part of the rise in prescriptions could be down to an increased awareness of mental health conditions in society, and more people feeling able to seek medical advice.
Experts said the NHS figures showed the toll of modern life, with political uncertainty linked to Brexit adding to the nation’s woes,
But she said: “We currently live in turbulent times and the impact of Brexit on the nation’s mental health is hard to measure. We know political and world events can create a great deal of uncertainty, which can make some of us feel anxious, stressed and down.”
John Read @ReadReadj 4h
John Read Retweeted John Read
We are now at one antidepressant prescription per 6 adults. At what level will Colleges of Psychiatrists and GPs stop defending this epidemic use of a marginally effective drug with multiple adverse effects? 1 in 4? 1 in 2? Negligent, unscientific, unethical.
Off label prescribing? Recently I was offered amitryptaline ‘for oesophagitis pain’. “Surely that’s an antidepressant.” I was surprised. “Ah, well, yes it was, but we use it now for pain control”…… so, I assume the little pill, knowing as it is swallowed that it is destined for this ‘new’ purpose, won’t affect one’s mind for a moment. I declined a prescription, assuming that the way it would control pain would be by making me feel so dozy that I hadn’t got the will left to report it.
BBC ‘Today’ programme 29.3.19 reports that prescriptions for antidepressants have DOUBLED over last ten years. I wonder how many are being given to otherwise ok patients for pain control.
October 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Karl – there is no agreed answer to any of these questions, except that amitripytline is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor also – so less point going back on Seroxat if you are on amitripytline. I think the problems are protracted withdrawal and many of them may not stem from the brain at all
Antidepressant Withdrawal: V’s Story
August 29, 2012 | 117 Comments
This is a most incredible blog with incredible comments which puts a lot of things in perspective, and we are lucky to have it …