11th October 2017

The use of potentially addictive painkillers “has doubled in the UK in 15 years"

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 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.

He added: "I thought it would be fine. I thought I would be on these tablets short term."

For James, the side-effects were terrible and included headaches, nausea, constipation, followed by 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 them would probably 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.

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