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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-03537: Alexander Stewart (Mid Scotland and Fife)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 6 October 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to tackle the reported high prevalence of addiction to (a) anti-depressants and (b) other prescription drugs in the NHS Forth Valley area.

Answered by: Shona Robison 3 November 2016

It is generally agreed that antidepressants are not classed as addictive medicines. They can, however, cause a discontinuation syndrome in someone taking them for a prolonged period of time if stopped abruptly. Prescribed medicines known to be addictive include benzodiazepines and some pain relieving medicines.

All NHS Boards monitor a range of prescribing indicators and against each they agree an appropriate action with practitioners. Drugs with the potential for addiction, such as benzodiazepines, are very commonly included in that process.

Decisions on the type of treatment to prescribe are for clinicians to make in discussion with their patients and to agree upon within the context of the patient’s long-term recovery.

All prescribing decisions should be in line with good clinical and prescribing practice, and clinicians are encouraged to review a patient’s medications regularly to ensure their continued clinical appropriateness, and to achieve the best possible health outcomes from the medicines they are prescribed.

In keeping with good clinical practice, clinicians should be providing on-going support and advice to patients who are prescribed medicines that are known to be addictive or with other long term effects. Where patients are concerned about the effects their medicines are having on their general wellbeing they should contact their GP as soon as possible and discuss alternative treatments that may be available.