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Prescription medicine addiction guidance launched

Prescription medicine addiction guidance launched

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Support should be offered “in every area” for people who are addicted to prescription or over-the-counter medicines, it has been claimed.  

Commissioners should base the support on a “full assessment” of local need, according to Public Health England (PHE). 

New guidance released PHE has been produced with input from medicine addiction experts which outlines a number of sources commissioners can use to identify the scale of misuse or dependence. 

According to PHE the response should be developed with local GPs and delivered through existing services that deal with drug and alcohol issues. 

Checks such as finding out about GP prescribing patterns are important to fully understand what services are needed.

Public Health minister Anna Soubry said: “We want to tackle addiction to medicines and the harm it causes to people.

“We know this is a complicated issue which we are determined to get right – which is why this guidance will be vital in helping local areas commission appropriate services and help people recover.” 

PHE director of Alcohol and Drugs Rosanna O’Connor said: “While GPs should be the first port of call for problems of dependence on these drugs, specialist help should also be provided to anyone who needs it. 

"This guidance raises the bar for commissioners to improve the ability of local areas to respond to this problem, and PHE will support them in this role.”

The Government’s 2010 Drug Strategy states that suitable local responses should be available for dependence on all drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines. 

This guidance aims to give a clear message on the support that people who have problems with these medicines are entitled to expect.

Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “GPs are well-placed to offer advice and support to patients with addiction to medicine and have been at the forefront of initiatives to prevent and reduce this problem.

“The college welcomes this practical guidance for commissioners to identify patients who are addicted to medicines and to support GPs in providing the right care for them.”

The guidance is available on the Public Health England website. 

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