Addiction to Medicines Consensus statement

Medical bodies unite to combat addiction to medicines The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) today (16/1/13) publish a signed consensus statement aimed at reducing patient addiction to medicines such as tranquilisers and painkillers.

Supported by professional groups, specialist service providers and voluntary bodies representing 16 organisations, it cautions against long-term prescribing of medicines which carry a risk of addiction, except in exceptional circumstances, and recommends rigorous and holistic regular reviews by practitioners with suitable expertise and understanding.

The statement calls on health and social care professionals across the statutory and voluntary sectors, in partnership with service users, to work together to reduce the risk of patient addiction to medicines and to support those who are dependent.

The statement acknowledges the issues and challenges faced by some patients who have dependency to prescribed or over the counter medications. It highlights the extreme caution that must be taken when reducing and stopping any medication to avoid serious risks of withdrawal and the need to enlist specialist help and advice to manage the physical and psychological aspects of the conditions these patients experience.

The Consensus Statement is available on the Policy areas of the RCGP

and RCPsych websites

Professor Clare Gerada, Chair of the RCGP, said: "Medicines such as tranquilisers do work for many patients but they need to fully understand the risks associated with these drugs and be in a position to make informed choices about their treatment and care plans, including seeking agreement on the duration and review of any proposed course of medication or treatment.

"GPs are well placed to work in partnership with other agencies including the voluntary and charitable sector many of whom offer advice and support including groups who can provide peer to peer support along with vital patient education and information.

"This approach has been shown to be successful in helping patients to slowly adjust their treatment and achieve their recovery goals, including providing them with more access to alternatives such as psychological therapies and physical rehabilitation for pain relief.

"GPs and health professionals are already helping these patients to reduce their medication and understand all the options - but there is general agreement that we all need to do more. We are very grateful to have had the support of the NTA and the Royal College of Psychiatrists in drawing up this statement and hope it will have a big impact on patient care in what can be a difficult area."

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Emma Whicher, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "Addiction psychiatrists are increasingly working with people who have developed dependence problems with prescribed or over the counter medication. Although these medications are beneficial to many people, awareness of the alternatives and risks is also important. This statement recognises the problem and supports people in their recovery. In addition treatment is available and effective for people who develop addiction to prescribed or over the counter medication."

The RCGP has also developed factsheets for GPs and their teams which will be available shortly to be followed by an online learning module for GPs, to inform their own continuing professional development to ensure they are kept abreast of the latest treatments and developments in this area.

RCGP Press office - 020 3188 7574/7575/7576
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Consensus Statement on Addiction to Medicines is available on the RCGP and RCPsych websites. It has been signed by:

  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • The British Pain Society
  • Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Royal College of Anaesthetists
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • National Pharmacy Association
  • Battle Against Tranquillisers
  • Bridge Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Project
  • MIND in Camden Tranquilliser Project
  • Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education
  • Substance Misuse Management in General Practice
  • Codeine Free ( Tel: +44(0)7787 391841
  • British Psychological Society
  • British Association of Social Workers
  • The College of Social Work
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 46,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards

The full statement is also available here:-

Media Request
by Ellie Henman - Closer

A top UK women's magazine is looking for a female case study to share their story with us.

We are looking for a woman, aged between 16 - 30 to speak to us, in confidence, about their addiction to painkillers/over the counter drugs.

We offer a negotiable fee for your input and help.

If you wish to find out more, please call or email Ellie Henman.

Office hours: 02072083576
Out of hours: Before 8am - after 8pm 07590802979
[feel free to call at any time to talk]

Respectable Addictions
By Dr Richard Cooper

Monitoring over-the-counter sales of opiates including codeine-based pain killers should be considered as a way of tackling drug misuse by so-called "respectable addicts", according to a public health academic.

The call by Richard Cooper, a lecturer in public health at the University of Sheffield, follows his research into the misuse of OTC opiates which was funded by the Pharmacy Practice Research Trust.

His findings, published in a report (PDF) by the PPRT last week (2 September 2011), reveal the frustration that community pharmacists feel because they are unable to track the supply of opiates to customers from other pharmacies.

He found that the profession traditionally adopts a monitoring role in OTC opiate misuse based on frequency of purchase.

However, "respectable addicts" a term for people who are usually respected professionals secretly addicted and who blame themselves for the abuse - said the questions asked by pharmacists and counter assistants about their OTC purchases were often "ineffective".

Click on image or
right click and select
"Save link target as"
to save a copy.

Samauri Approach
by Dr Fergus Law

The "Samauri Approach" views detox as a battle and the symptoms of detox as enemy forces whose power can be countered by being forewarned. As in any battle, to maximise your chances of success and minimise the dangers, you must arm yourself, prepare your battle strategy and repair your fortifications before doing battle with the enemy.

Click on image or
right click and select
"Save link target as"
to save a copy.

Weldricks Pharmacy
Product information leaflet given at point of sale

New guidelines for Codeine-based Pain Killers

The medicines and Healthcare product Regulatory agency (MHRA) have recently announced new guidelines for Codeine based painkillers to minimise the risk of overuse and addiction.

Weldricks Pharmacy chain produced this awareness leaflet which is given out at the Point Of Sale with Codeine based painkillers.

Click on image or
right click and select
"Save link target as"
to save a copy.

This artwork is (c) Codeinefree 2009 and (c) Weldricks Pharmacy 2009. For more details, please visit

New Pain Management Leaflet Launched

Almost 10 million Britons suffer pain almost daily. Many of these people manage pain themselves, with over 300 million packs of over the counter (OTC) analgesics sold in the UK each year.

To help promote appropriate use of OTC analgesics, the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) and the British Pain Society (BPS) have published a leaflet that can be used with patients to explain how to manage pain effectively using OTC medicines.

The Managing your pain effectively using "Over the Counter" (OTC) Medicines leaflet covers the following information areas:

  • The safe use of medicines in managing pain
  • How different OTC painkillers work
  • The importance of reading all pack instructions, labelling and the need to understand different OTC pain management ingredients
  • Guidance on recognising mismanagement of OTC medicines such as codeine
  • Recognising issues such as chronic daily headache
  • Making the best use of all OTC analgesics
Click on image or
right click and select
"Save link target as"
to save a copy.

This artwork is (c) PAGB 2010 and (c) British Pain Society 2010.

New Taper Plan leaflet launched

A taper plan or, slow taper, is a way of coming off codeine which minimises the withdrawl side effects. The leaflet details how to work out a plan along with tips and an example plan.

Click on image or
right click and select
"Save link target as"
to save a copy.

Please note: A taper plan is not suitable if you are taking a large amount daily.

Awareness Posters

Codeinefree has produced three awareness posters for display in GP Surgeries, Pharmacies and Health Center's.

Click on image or
right click and select
"Save link target as"
to save a copy.


All information provided on this site is indended for information only and should not be misconstrued as medical or legal advice. OTC medicines are invaluable when used correctly and in accordance with the instructions. Messages posted on our forum are the views and opinions of the original poster only and the administrators take no responsibility for them.

This web site is not indended to promote OTC (Or any other) drug misuse.