Family doctors are being told to slash prescriptions of painkillers and sleeping pills amid concerns that patients are becoming addicted.
New guidelines urge doctors to consider alternative treatments such as physiotherapy and counselling.
The latest NHS figures show that some 62million prescriptions for painkillers are written out every year with another 50million for sleeping pills..
GPs are being told to cut prescriptions of painkillers and sleeping pills amid concerns that patients are becoming addicted
But experts warn that more than a million Britons are now hooked on these drugs with many suffering severe withdrawal symptoms if they try to come off.
There are also increasing concerns over the long-term side-effects of some pills, particularly benzodiazepines which relieve insomnia and anxiety.
Only last year a Harvard University study found pensioners who had taken the pills were 50 per cent more likely to develop dementia.
Joint guidelines issued by medical bodies including the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Nursing and the British Psychological Society urge doctors not to prescribe such pills for long periods.
They warn there is a risk patients will become addicted and this can be ‘devastating’ for their lives and families.
Doctors ignore dementia plan.jpg
The new guidelines encourage doctors to consider alternative treatments such as physiotherapy and counselling
Doctors are told to review patients’ prescriptions regularly to check whether they are still needed.
They are also urged to consider alternatives such as counselling for depression and insomnia, and physiotherapy for pain, before starting patients off on drugs. Experts are particularly worried that patients are becoming addicted to painkillers containing codeine, an opiate from the same family as heroin and morphine.
The drug induces a sense of relaxation and is included in popular brands such as Nurofen Plus, Solpadeine Max, Panadol Ultra and Syndol.
There is also concern that many patients are becoming addicted to benzodiazepines, include temazepam and diazepam, which are prescribed for insomnia and anxiety.
As many as a million Britons are thought to be hooked on the pills – and some experts claim it is harder to come off them than heroin. They have also been linked to falls, memory problems, panic attacks and early death
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2263414/GPs-urged-prescribe-sleeping-pills-painkillers-fears-millions-Britons-addicted.html#ixzz2ICA1D0Fz
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook