This was the headline to an article about tranquiliser abuse among women on the front of the Metro one day this week. It’s a fairly confusing and not very well written piece, but the gist of it is that, while 3.5% of women in Europe smoke cannabis (the world’s most popular drug), 4.2% abuse tranquilisers. Dr Peter Swinyard, chairman of the Family Doctors Association apparently said, “Some women just need something to help them get through the day and deal with all the stresses of life such as looking after children and work, or lack of it – and sometimes doctors just dispense pills and sympathy.”
While I think that the Zombie Epidemic headline is very harsh – my experience in addiction services has certainly given me an awareness of how serious the problem of over-use and addiction to prescribed drugs actually is. Many clients I have seen have been taking diazepam (valium) for decades. But many others, and certainly not only women, have become addicted to other drugs including anti-depressants, sleeping pills and pain killers. Last year the Guardian reported a 43% increase in anti-depressant prescriptions over 4 years – up to 23 million – I find this figure absolutely staggering.
Is there an alternative?
Why is it that women in particular apparently “need something to help them get through the day”? What sort of society is it where so many people are apparently ‘depressed’ to the point of needing medication – despite Government pledges to increase the amount of money going into ‘talking therapies’?
I know that, certainly in Surrey, the wait for these talking therapies via the NHS can be 8+ months – if you’re feeling seriously depressed or are not coping that could be way too long – hence, I suspect why doctors tend to prescribe
anti-depressants which, while they may help in the short term, may also end up causing more problems of dependence and overuse.
I believe that, for many of these people who are struggling with low mood and feeling unable to cope, some simple advice on sorting out their values and looking at what really matters to them, managing stress and work/life balance, working on their thought patterns, building self-esteem etc could change their outlook dramatically and eliminate their need for drugs or long term ‘therapies’.
NLP coaching can be remarkably successful in these situations – so if you’re feeling depressed or are struggling to cope, think about giving this a try first before you embark on any potentially addictive drug treatment. And if you are already having trouble stopping some prescribed medication, check out our Alcohol page which also covers drugs – we can probably help you.