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Dangers of Prescribed Tranquillisers (Benzodiazepines)

Author: Barry Haslam

Barry Haslam has been an active campaigner against the misuse and over prescription of benzodiazepine drugs (commonly prescribed tranquillisers) contrary to medical guidelines.

This is my personal testament on the dangers of prescribed benzodiazepine dependent drugs both to the individual patient and to society, as these set of drugs are a clear and present danger to public health and safety.

I ingested these highly addictive drugs from 1976 to 1986, prescribed by my then doctors in the United Kingdom. They resulted in damaging me with a 10 year complete memory gap, with no memories at all of my wife and 2 daughters aged then 5 and 7 years. Zilch memories.

I now suffer as a direct result of this negligent prescribing (well outside the UK guidelines of 2 to 4 weeks only) with permanent brain damage, fluid on the brain, narrowing of ventricles of the brain, neuropathic pain in right leg from knee to toes. These facts have been confirmed by 2 MRI brain scans. I became the first UK citizen in 1996 to be awarded a life long award of Disability Living Allowance from a Manchester Tribunal for the permanent brain damage caused by these dangerous drugs of dependence.

In addition I suffer with chronic fatigue, daily headaches, under active thyroid, vitamin B12 deficiency, and COPD, all caused by prescribed benzodiazepine drugs from 30 years ago. These drugs stay in the blood, fat tissue and bone marrow, due to the latter my immune system has also been damaged and I now have the illness lupus. All this because I trusted my doctor's clinical judgement and the UK Licensing Authority at the time, (Medicines Control Agency) to be professional and up to their jobs. Clearly both where not.

Clinical trials in the late 1970/80s (by Professor Malcolm Lader) showed that benzodiazepines prescribed outside the guidelines where responsible for brain damage in patients here in the UK and this was not acted upon by the British Government. More up to date clinical trials and data show that benzodiazepines significantly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers, trebling the risk of lung cancer.

Benzodiazepines are responsible for falls and broken bones in the elderly, for road traffic accidents, for suicides, for break up of marriages and uncountable human misery and suffering caused by iatrogenic drug dependency. These drugs increase the risk of fatality from overdose if combined with other drugs, increase the risk of aggressive behaviour and assault, increase the risk of shoplifting and other antisocial acts, contributions to job loss, unemployment, loss of work through illness, cost of hospital investigations, consultations and admissions, have adverse effects in pregnancy and in the new born, costs of drug prescriptions and costs of litigation.

The financial yearly costs to Government and loss to the GDP of the USA must be in the billions of dollars and rising year on year. So far the UK Government have swept this issue under the carpet for decades at the direct expense of the health of patients, their families and their citizens. This compounded by the scarcity of dedicated withdrawal facilities and after care, here in the UK and the lack of expertise in withdrawing patients, slowly and safely from a prescription drug that is harder to withdraw from than than heroin (Professor Malcolm Lader).

I currently campaign that:

  • doctors to strictly adhere to the CSM 1988 Guidelines of 2 –4 weeks prescribing only and that this is made mandatory for new patients, 
  • to provide dedicated withdrawal centres for those patients who are brave enough to attempt withdrawal and at the patient's pace and not the doctors
  • to educate the medical profession on the dangers of prescribing these drugs,
  • to encourage people to use Oldham's system (established in 2005) as a model of best practice and to be replicated nationally
  • to set up Peer Support Groups in each town and city in order to compliment the dedicated withdrawal centres, like Oldham Tranx
  • to obtain the necessary funding in order for research to be carried out on the long term health implications of prescribed benzodiazepines
  • to have a Counsellor in every GP Surgery so that prescribing of these drugs is a means of last resort and not first
  • to fund other methods of treatment and not chemicals e.g. peer support, CBT, acupuncture, deep relaxation methods and other more holistic methods.

The experience of me and my wife Sue, can be viewed on You Tube here.


The publisher is the Centre for Welfare Reform.

The Severe Dangers of Commonly Prescribed Tranquillisers © Barry Haslam 2016.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.