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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 05:29 GMT 06:29 UK
Addicts sought for drug battle
There are thought to be more than 1m addicts in the UK
Prescription drug addicts in the North West are being sought for a campaign to stop others becoming addicted.

A charity - Beat the Benzos - is fighting to get new Europe-wide guidelines drawn up to tackle the problem and addicts experiences are seen as vital to the campaign.

The charity, supported by MEP Chris Davies, is being backed by the European parliament.

Up to 1.2m people in the UK are thought to be addicted to anxiety-suppressing drugs like Valium, Temazepan and Librium.

On Monday Mr Davies - Lib-Dem MEP for the North West - said: "At last recognition is being paid to the thousands of silent addicts in this country and across Europe.

Gradually the dangers have been recognised but it has taken a long time for anything to be done
Barry Haslam
Beat the Benzos
"Their shared experiences will be vital when compiling these guidelines."

The European Commission will now draft guidelines on the issue.

They aim to produce best-practice recommendations on the treatment of patients suffering withdrawal, or those who are suffering permanent health problems from the drugs.

Beat The Benzos' Barry Haslam, who is collating addict responses on behalf of the European Commission, said GPs have been misled on the issue.

'Legal addiction'

He said: "British doctors were misled by the drug manufacturers during the 1970s and 1980s into believing these drugs were safe for widespread use.

"Gradually the dangers have been recognised but it has taken a long time for anything to be done.

"Legally induced addiction of these neuro-poisoning drugs should be given the recognition by government which it's seriousness and dangers indicate."

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