The British Psychological Society (BPS) welcomes the recommendation by Public Health England (PHE) that developing new clinical guidance on how to safely manage dependence and withdrawal from prescribed drugs would be beneficial to both patients and psychological therapists.
The PHE review found an alarming number of people are struggling with withdrawal effects from prescribed medicines and that there is a need for summarised evidence, information, and training for clinicians about the impact of these drugs.
Sarb Bajwa, BPS chief executive, said: ‘We thank Public Health England for all its work on this hugely important report. It is a significant step to officially acknowledge that these drugs can cause long-lasting withdrawal effects and that new clinical guidance is needed for medicines that can cause problems with dependence.
‘With the huge rise in the number of prescriptions, our members have repeatedly told us that they would welcome guidance, information, and training to help them work more confidently with clients either taking or withdrawing from prescribed drugs.
‘In the next few weeks, through our partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence (APPG), we will publish new evidence-based guidance for all those providing therapeutic services. This guidance will enable our members to help clients navigate the difficulties encountered when taking or withdrawing from prescribed drugs.’
Professor John Read, BPS representative on the PHE review’s Expert Reference Group, said: ‘We especially welcome recommendations for urgently needed services and a phone line to support people struggling to come off these drugs, including antidepressants.
‘We also value the emphasis placed on increasing accessibility to talking therapies for the problems that the drugs are currently prescribed for, alongside more social prescribing.’
This is the first ever PHE evidence review of dependence and withdrawal problems associated with five commonly prescribed classes of medicines in England.
The five classes of medicine reviewed were:
- Benzodiazepines (mainly prescribed for anxiety and insomnia)
- Z-drugs (insomnia)
- Gabapentinoids (osteopathic pain)
- Opioid pain medications (for chronic non-cancer pain such as low back pain and injury-related and degenerative joint disease)
- Antidepressants (depression)
The new guidance will be available on the APPG website.