[back] Heroin [back] Toxic Psychiatry
In Scotland in 1998 - the most recent figures available - 114 people died from heroin and morphine overdoses. But 151 died from taking benzodiazepines. In England and Wales between 1990 and 1996, 1,623 people overdosed on heroin, morphine and other opiates while 1,810 died from benzodiazepines. [Media 2001 Benzodiazepines] Drug 'killing more than heroin'
Heroin second to pharmaceutical drugs in
numbers and addictive problems:
"It is more difficult to withdraw someone from benzodiazepines than it is heroin, it just seems that the dependency is so ingrained and the withdrawal symptoms are so intolerable that people have a great deal of problem coming off. The other aspect is that with heroin, usually the withdrawal is over within a week or so. With benzodiazepines, a proportion of patients go on to long-term withdrawal and they have very unpleasant symptoms for month after month. I get letters from people saying you can go on for two years or more."-----Professor Malcolm Lader, Royal Maudsley Hospital
"The biggest drug-addiction problem in the world doesn't involve heroin, cocaine or marijuana. In fact, it doesn't involve an illegal drug at all. The world's biggest drug-addiction problem is posed by a group of drugs, the benzodiazepines, which are widely prescribed by doctors and taken by countless millions of perfectly ordinary people around the world... Drug-addiction experts claim that getting people off the benzodiazepines is more difficult than getting addicts off heroin... For several years now pressure-groups have been fighting to help addicted individuals break free from their pharmacological chains. But the fight has been a forlorn one. As fast as one individual breaks free from one of the benzodiazepines another patient somewhere else becomes addicted. I believe that the main reason for this is that doctors are addicted to prescribing benzodiazepines just as much as patients are hooked on taking them. I don't think that the problem can ever be solved by gentle persuasion or by trying to wean patients off these drugs. I think that the only genuine long-term solution is to be aware of these drugs and to avoid them like the plague. The uses of the benzodiazepines are modest and relatively insignificant. We can do without them. I don't think that the benzodiazepine problem will be solved until patients around the world unite and make it clear that they are not prepared to accept prescriptions for these dangerous products." - Dr Vernon Coleman, Life Without Tranquillisers, 1985.