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Powerful painkiller use 'doubled in 15 years'

From BBC - September 8, 2017

The use of potentially addictive painkillers across England has doubled in the last 15 years, according to a report by leading public health experts.

Researchers found one in 20 people was being prescribed opioid painkillers, such as codeine and tramadol.

They also found that drugs were being prescribed for longer periods of time.

Experts say long-term use leads to a risk of addiction while the benefits become greatly reduced.

A routine prescription drug led James to the brink of destruction.

His problems started with severe stomach aches but the painkillers he was prescribed quickly stopped working.

Desperate for pain relief, he was soon spending 400 a month on additional supplies from online pharmacies.

'I was basically a drug addict'

James went from taking eight pills a day to 50 - and almost before he knew it, his life had spiralled out of control.

"A few months before, I was just this normal guy working full time, kids and a wife and happy, then all of a sudden I am basically a drug addict.

"I thought it would be fine. I thought I would be on these tablets short term, but then before I knew it, I could not get off them."

For James, the side-effects were terrible - headaches, nausea, constipation - and then a series of seizures that he feared would end his life.

"They can ruin your life without you knowing because I do believe that probably within a year - taking the same amounts or increasing - they probably would have killed me."

James is now getting help to deal with his crippling addiction through a programme run by his council and a local GP practice.

Research in just a handful of GP practices where he lives in Scunthorpe alone identified more than 100 people dependent on painkillers.

But responsibility for helping them falls between the NHS and local councils, and schemes like the one James is on are rare.

Powerful opioids

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