PUBLIC Health England has released the results of a prescribed medicines review which highlights the dependence on and withdrawal from prescribed drugs across the country.

Data, released for the first time, shows the estimated proportion of people with a prescription in March 2018 living in Warrington, as well as how many of those people have been receiving the prescription for at least a year.

The report has delved into prescribing rates for antidepressants, opiate pain medicines, gabapentinoids, benzodiazepines, and Z-drugs.

Detailed analysis of the report by addiction treatment experts at UKAT shows that in just the month of March 2018, more than 35,000 people living in Warrington were issued a prescription for any of the above drugs.

UKAT’s concern is that more than half of these patients, 19,070, have been repeatedly prescribed these highly addictive drugs for at least 12 months, and for some, perhaps even longer.

Most of the prescriptions issued in Warrington were for antidepressants, 18,993 prescriptions issued in just one month, of which half have been on the same antidepressant prescription for at least 12 months.

Warrington Guardian: Public Health England released the dataPublic Health England released the data

More than half of people who take Opioid pain medicines have also been on the same prescription for more than a year.

Nuno Albuquerque, group treatment lead at UKAT, said: "This report shows us that thousands of people living in Warrington are crying out for help, and unfortunately, they’re being given plasters in the form of pills to solve their problems.

"There is no doubt that in the short-term, these drugs may help, but long-term use of these drugs, for the majority, will be ineffective because over time, the patient is likely to develop physical and psychological tolerance to the drug, whilst the root cause of the problem remains untreated."

Officials at Public Health England have stated that long-term use on such a scale could not be justified and was a sign of patients becoming dependent.

Mr Albuquerque added: “These figures suggest to me that GP's here are stretched and overwhelmed and need better support and investment to be able to offer alternative treatment therapies like pain clinics, talking therapy, yoga, exercise, diet, and acupuncture to better tackle the root cause of their patients problems, instead of simply issuing a repeat prescription."

Opiate prescription pain medicines can include codeine, morphine, fentanyl and Hydrocodone.

Gabapentinoids are generally prescribed for epilepsy neuropathic pain.

Pregabalin is also used for anxiety disorders.

A recent study explored the harms associated with the prescription of Gabapentinoids to adolescents and adults over 15 years old, which included suicidal behaviour, unintentional overdose, injuries, road traffic incidents, and violent crime.

Benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety, panic disorders and they act as muscle relaxants and include drugs like Xanax and Valium. Z-drugs are generally prescribed for sleep disorders and include Zopiclone.