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How to help OTC drug abusers

The two articles in the most recent issue of The Pharmaceutical Journal about prescription drug abuse (2015;294:624 and 2015;294:627) missed an opportunity to provide pharmacists with practical tips in tackling prescription drug abuse. Community pharmacists face the prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse problem every day and need pointers on how to deal with it.

I found that when I was in practice, I could identify the people misusing prescription and OTC products. Some of them even told me of their plight, but I was powerless to help because no facilities were then available in the drug treatment services. The situation was further compounded by the people misusing the drugs not wanting to go to treatment where they would have to “mix with those dirty heroin addicts”. They considered themselves “respectable addicts”.

For a long time, the only resource that I was aware of to help prescription OTC drug abuse were the websites CodeineFree and the Over-Count Drugs Information Agency. I recognised that, to help these people, a separate service would have to be set up if progress were to be made.

By chance I met up with the chief executive officer of a drug service in Bradford who shared my vision. He was going to set up a service within his drug service (The Bridge Project) for prescription and OTC drug abusers. He organised an information evening for pharmacists in Bradford. The purpose of the event was to tell pharmacists about aspects of this “respectable” addiction that they might not have considered. I told my story of my battle with OTC medicines abuse.

The pharmacists attending were given a contact number to refer any of their patients to The Bridge Project, where they could get help in changing their lives.

Bob Dunkley


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068768

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