RCPsych responds to Government Review into prescription addiction

Statement / comment
24 January 2018

Responding to the Public Health England announcement of the review into prescription addiction, Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said,

“We welcome a review to look into how to prevent people from becoming dependent on prescription drugs and to improve the lives of those suffering from addiction. Addiction is a serious mental illness and the rising number of deaths by opioids make this review timely, especially as cuts to addiction services have been as big as 30% and the specialist psychiatric workforce is declining.”

Commenting on the review looking into the rising number of prescriptions of antidepressants, she added,

“Antidepressants are an effective, evidence-based treatment for depression and anxiety disorders. For many people, antidepressants are potentially life-saving. NICE guidelines state that antidepressants are most effective when combined with talking therapies, but too often these services are not available. We hope the Review will also look into how we can ensure more people have access to psychological therapies.

“Approximately one in six people has a common mental disorder such as depression – yet only a third of them receive treatment. Rising prescriptions for antidepressants probably reflect a slow but steady increase in awareness of the need for treating affected people for long enough to help them to get and stay well.”

For further information, please contact: