The reported rise in U.K. prescription drugs use


There’s a false perception that drug misuse comes from taking illegal highs. Reportedly, there is also a growing problem with prescription drugs that first swept the U.S., and is now possibly making its way to the U.K.

The extent of the problem is not yet known over here as there doesn’t seem to be enough data. In one example, prescriptions for opiate-based painkiller Tramadol has apparently doubled in the past decade to 24 million prescriptions annually.

So, what are we seeing here? A pandemic of overusing prescription drugs? Growing addictions to prescription drugs? Should we be worried, and what can be done?

Teenagers misusing prescription drugs

Recently, Wiltshire Police were informed that 20 teenagers aged between 15 and 16 sought medical attention after they took the prescription drug Xanax – which is usually prescribed to treat anxiety orders and panic attacks. This is a clear misuse of drugs, but it isn’t illegal highs these youngsters were taking; it was a genuine prescription drug used for real medical treatment.

The growing trend of misusing prescription drugs is thought to have originated from the U.S. Harry Shapiro, founder of drug information service Drugwise, believes the trend of taking prescription drugs could’ve spread from the influence of American rappers on YouTube.

Celebrity influence is often blamed for societal problems, and we regularly see news reports of actors and musicians battling all sorts of addictions and substance misuse. Let’s not forget that fact that modern film and music is rife with abuse and addiction as well.

To refute any idea of a link would be naive.

Are legal drugs too easy to find?

What’s even more concerning is the fact that prescription drugs can be easily accessible online; it’s not as if the drug is hidden in the dark web.

Referring back to the example above, side-effects of Xanax can include cardiac and respiratory difficulties. It can also slow down reactions and slow down the heart rate to “dangerous levels”. Other serious side-effects include damage to brain cells, which could result in users having trouble with speech and balance.

Wiltshire Police Inspector, Pete Sparrow, raised his concerns with these incidents. He noted:

“…we are investigating where the supply to these young people has come from and ask that anyone with information comes forward.”

Another painkiller, Fentanyl, that’s reported to be 50 times more powerful than heroin, has reportedly been misused in Gloucestershire. The prescription drug has reportedly been a cause of 59,000 deaths in the U.S.

A-listers’ reliance on prescription drugs

Prescription drug addiction isn’t an issue that’s confined to ‘ordinary’ people like you and I. This issue has affected celebrities and has been widely reported in the press, and a lot of the time, the misuse starts from a real trauma like a serious operation where the use of strong prescription painkillers are genuinely needed.

But what happens when the pain is no longer there, but the person remains addicted to the drug they’d originally used to genuinely relieve pain? The mental stress that can be caused following serious injuries that require long-term pain medication use may exacerbate the problems. People are vulnerable; we need to be asking what more can medical professionals do…

Doctors’ responsibilities

There is a responsibility on doctors who prescribe drugs to make a thorough assessment before authorising a prescription. Prescription drugs can have very severe side-effects and can trigger addiction.

According to ITV News, prescription drug Tramadol has been “claiming more lives than any other drug”. This statement was issued by a top pathologist in Northern Ireland, Professor Jack Crane. In 2015, there were reportedly 33 deaths in Northern Ireland that were linked with the use of Tramadol.

Professor Crane went on to say that it’s time for Tramadol to be upgraded back to a Class A drug.

The content of this post/page was considered accurate at the time of the original posting and/or at the time of any posted revision. The content of this page may, therefore, be out of date. The information contained within this page does not constitute legal advice. Any reliance you place on the information contained within this page is done so at your own risk.

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