USEFUL CONTACTS TO HELP YOU!
(If your cause is just these professionals really will be on your side not that of social services !)
If you find a solicitor, barrister psychologist, psychiatrist, parent assessor,or children’s help line that has taken your side against the ss and really helped you to win your case please LET ME KNOW and I will add their names to the list on my site!
1. Rights4me (www.rights4me.org)
If you are living in a children’s home, family centre, boarding school, residential special school, further education college, with foster carers, are adopted, getting any sort of help from social services or a care leaver… then this is the place to find out about your RIGHTS and a way for you to BE HEARD! Freephone: 0800 528 0731 or write to:
Office of the Children’s Rights Director
Ofsted Aviation House
London WC2B 6SE
2. Lawstuff (www.lawstuff.org.uk)
Lawstuff is a free advice centre for children; Freephone 08088020008
3. ChildLine (www.childline.org.uk)
Calls to ChildLine are free and confidential 0800 1111
ChildLine counsels more than 3,000 children in care
Report calls for advocates for looked after children
One in 26 looked after children contact ChildLine about failings and weaknesses in the care system, a ChildLine report has revealed. Over the last five years, the number of ‘looked after children’ contacting ChildLine has increased by over 30 per cent. In all, 3,196 looked after children – some as young as five – contacted ChildLine over 2009-10 with problems about being in care. Many were suffering physical and sexual abuse and neglect and felt lost and helpless in the care system.
The report calls on local authorities to ensure looked after children always have an adult to speak up for them when they need help. At present, children only have a right to an ‘advocate’ if they want to make a formal complaint about their care.
Some children were deeply unsettled and traumatised after being moved several times a year, some as many as 15 times. Others complained of emotionally abusive or uncaring carers and being bullied by other children. Many looked after children had to be counselled about self-harming or running away. They talked about being ‘sick of life’ and wanting to ‘give up and die’
Other ways you can talk to someone who can help you
Organisation Name: Voice UK
Phone Number:: 1332 345 346
Helpline: 0845 122 8695 / Helpline Text Number: 07797 800 642
Liberty runs free a free specialist advice line three times a week. You can call this on 0845 123 2307 or 0203 145 0461. If you are calling from a mobile phone the ‘020’ number may be the cheaper number to use.
The line is open at the following times:
Monday and Thursday 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Wednesday 12.30pm – 2.30pm
SOLICITORS and BARRISTERS.
(Solicitors deal with clients and paperwork while barristers are recommended by solicitors and speak in court in complex cases.)
All on this list have won cases for parents against the ss but beware as the head solicitor (or barrister) in any one company or “set” may be terrific but the others are sometimes not much good at all ! Judge for yourself……….
You are strongly advised to represent yourself but if you really do need a lawyer choose only a solicitor who says “We will fight social services every step of the way to get your children back.(or keep social services from taking them).
It is common sense NOT to employ a solicitor or barrister who says”go along with social services” (your enemies!) or “we will not agree to the interim care order but we will not oppose it either!”or”no need for you to speak as we shall speak for you” Those solicitors are professional losers who should be avoided at all costs!
Lastly if they suggest two solicitors (one for you and one for your partner) and they both seem less than enthusiastic INSIST ON ONE FOR YOUR PARTNER but YOU REPRESENT YOURSELF (or vice versa)so you can make all the points you want,while the solicitor takes care of the paperwork
Solicitors and barrister at a first meeting do not need or want a long explanation just the FACTS as they are today NOT how or why they came about !Do give them in advance at least the basic information
1:-How many children do you have and how old are they ?
2:- Are they living with you,with your ex Partner,with relatives,in fostercare,or placed for adoption?
3 :-Are your children under a section 20,an interim care order, an adoption placement or has there been a final adoption order? When exactly were any of these orders made?
4:-What reasons did the JUDGE (not the ss) give for (a) removing them from your care.(b)(if applicable) deciding that the last and only resort possible was adoption?(c)(if applicable)Stopping or severely restricting your contact?
5:-Have you, or your Partner, or the father/mother of your children got 1) a criminal record and do you have problems with 2)drugs or 3) alcohol?(Don’t worry even if you have all three as I will still advise you and help you .)
6:- What is your objective now? What are you doing to achieve it and how do you think I can best help you do that?
Claims against local authority – family law/Court of Protection
Our actions solicitors are nationally recognised as leaders in the field of human rights law and actions against local authorities. Our specialist solicitors are active members of key associations including: Northern Administrative Lawyers Association, INQUEST Lawyers Group and Police Action Lawyers Group.
Our solicitors make compensation claims and undertake public law challenges on issues concerning human rights law and decisions by local authorities.
We offer competitive private funding rates and routinely act for clients who pay privately. We are proud of the service we offer to our clients. We are also a practice that has the benefit of a legal aid franchise and as such, are able to act for the most vulnerable clients, free of charge.
On occasions, we may act for you under a no win, no fee agreement. To speak to a member of the team call us on 0333 009 5452.
AN Excellent barrister who will NOT tell you to “go along with social services”
Michael Bailey Barrister http://www.tanfieldchambers.co.uk/Barristers/Michael_Bailey
Claire roberts (solicitor who works with Michael)
Lilywhite Williams & co
1 Cinema Parade
Whalebone Lane South
Dagenham Essex RM8 1AA
Here is an encouraging report from a parent happy with legal advisors !!
We were so blessed that the ico was dropped by the la in june 2017 so we have had all our children with us during the whole of the procedings. Barrister Michael Bailey helped us secure that.
Mark Batchelor was my barrister during the final few months. He was a perfect fit for us. He said many things in court that you tell us as parents to say to the judge. He also pushed the human side like we love our children, and that they are loved. When he spoke the judge really listend.
For anyone else who needs help he is 100% fully for familys. My husband marks barister was Jeramy Lindsey he has been brilliant he was also 100% for us too, he was under instruction from Nancy Freeman (under supervistion of Bill Bache).
Mark Batchelor said that we were one of his hardest cases, he was called to the bar in 1971. It was hard as most of it was removing crystal ball accusations of potential harm in the future.
We used and submited 2 dvd recordings of the social worker with us at home to court, and during evidence I was able to throw back to most accusations from the cafcas and la baristers that the event was recorded on dvd or audio so if needed could be viewed independantly to assess accurecey of the social workers view on what happend.
I was very supprised when giving evedence the judge even agreed with me that when the Independant social worker refused to be recorded, and said somthing was said during her visit that wasnt true, when I pointed out to the court that had she agreed to the recording of her assessment visit she could prove that her report was accuret. But refusing to be recorded meant that she could not. The judge even agreed that her statment should be taken as untruthfull.
My solicitor Claire Diane Roberts from lillywhitewilliams. She has been brilliant too. She is still looking after me. One of the things she did that helped was the la said we were isolated, Claire made us draw a map of my home and village and the number the supports we have in our area. In the end it had about 52 diffrent things on it. I wrote a little sentence about each thing. Some were just places like park, shop, etc
About William Bache and Son
William Bache and Sons are a firm of solicitors based in West Bromwich, West Midlands. To contact William Bache and Sons, please call their phone number on 0121 553 3286. Address is as follows:
William Bache and Sons, Lombard House, Cronehills Linkway, West Bromwich, West Midlands, B70 7PL.
Please contact a partner at William Bache and Sons solicitors to see how they can represent you for your legal case, or for any aspect of law that this solicitor may cover. Find more solicitors in the UK.
And so does Robert Guilbert also work with Claire ! I am told she advises parents NOT to fight the “SS” but both ROBERT GUILBERT and Michael Bailey WILL fight so no worry on that score !
My child solicitor is Sheelagh and her Barrister is Diane. I have had 3 barristers before but all disgraceful, but Diane was excellent, really amazing! She represented my child very well so did my barrister Robert, both the best barrister any one could get. I highly recommend them both.
Sheelagh Coles, my child’s solicitor
Diane Campbell, my child’s barrister
Robert Gilbert, my barrister, under direction of Claire Roberts.
Ian, yesterday I attended as respondent for my child’s hearing.
She had applied to discharge her care order.
My barrister was again amazing.
Robert Gilbert – Fountain Chambers
I didn’t expect that he would tell the judge to recuse herself, as I asked her to recuse herself in 2014 and she didn’t.
But this time my barrister, told the judge to open her law book that was on her table and told her that a judge that is bias should recuse himself.
He pointed out all the wrong she did on the last judgment up to present hearings I had and called her bias several time.
So, next Friday she will let us know whether she will recuse herself or not.
My barrister really care for me, he really represents my interest. Even if the judge doesn’t recuse herself or my child doesn’t win her case, I am recommending this barrister to everyone. He is really very intelligent, determinated and competent.
His name is Robert Guilbert, you could add him to your website.
Farleys Solicitors are specialists in assisting people with claims against local authorities throughout the UK and have helped many people who have suffered at the hands of social services. Even if the events occurred several years ago.
Want to sue the police for harassing you or even jailing you for contacting your own children?Ring 08008047547 freephone for a free consultation about your case on a no win no fee basis !
CHRIS SALTRESE Solicitors provide a nationwide specialist criminal defence service in contested sexual offence allegations.
Phone 01704535512 fax 01704533056
Our actions against the police and public bodies solicitors are part of a department which is nationally recognised as leaders in the field of human rights law….
Our Civil Liberties team is ranked as one of the top 10 firms in the UK for this … Our Actions Against the Police Solicitors are backed by nearly four decades of …
Donoghue Solicitors are expert civil actions against the police lawyers. … When suing the police, victims of police misconduct instruct solicitors, such as …. The claim failed due to the UK courts finding the police’s actions (i.e. trespass) lawful in …
I helped John and Susan Spencer sue the police in a civil compensation claim in … He asked me to help him sue the police as I am a solicitor who specialises
A merger of Pierce Glynn and Deighton Guedalla solicitors specialising in judicial … Contact us London 020 7407 0007 Bristol 0117 332 3598 firstname.lastname@example.org …. Polly Glynn is a public law and human rights specialist..
We will respond to your email enquiries between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.
Our reception staff can be contacted on 0208 290 0440 between 8.30am and 6pm Monday to Friday.
Our New Enquiry helpline 0208 461 6143 is open 7 days a week 8am to 8pm
.1 Law Solicitors provide an expert service and we are specialists in personal injury and family law. Our professional, friendly advice will guide you through
Harris Cuffaro and Nichols Solicitors Bank House 37-39 High Street Harlow Essex enquiry @hcnlaw.co.uk
Tel:- 01279444456 Fax:-01279439390
From Eugeny:- I would like to highly recommend solicitor Robert Berg from Janes solicitors IN LONDON He helped me to get rid off criminal charges.
Supported my non guilty plea. Matter was dropped by police and CPS.
ONLY CRIMINAL MATTERS. Phone number of company is 02079305100
Foys Solicitors is a significant legal practice with offices conveniently located in Doncaster, Worksop, Rotherham and Sheffield.
- 102 Burncross Rd Sheffield, South Yorkshire +44 114 246 7609
www.foys.co.uk Google+ page
100-102 Bridge St Worksop +44 1909 473560
www.foys.co.uk Google+ page
Doncaster +44 1302 327136
OR TRY THESE !
- : http://www.justice-for-families.org.uk/ or
- email@example.com are the email addresses for “justice for families, an organisation headed by John Hemming MP with an excellent team who help those who do not trust their solicitors!
- Organisations that can help:-Michael Markham 07546078676 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web:
Barristers without solicitors ! referred to as “DIRECT ACCESS”
Alternatively most barristers ARE instructed by solicitors and some of the best are below:-
The top man if you can get him is Micheal Mansfield !
Highly recommended !
Michelle Freedman tel:-07956540075
or 02079938923 (landline)
Michelle Freedman Barrister www.clerksroom.com
218 Strand London WC2R 1AT DX 53151 Mill Hill Tel: 0845 083 3000 Fax: 0845 083 3001
Please note MICHELLE will fight really hard for you(unlike most legal aid lawyers !) but she will be at her most effective if you contact her BEFORE any court proceedings have started and BEFORE any court order on the children has been made.
Michelle Freedman, a barrister with 10 years’ experience representing parents in the family courts writes: “Clients are like lambs to the slaughter. Every client I met filled me with sadness (except of course in cases where there was obvious abuse and not in the Local Authorities’ and court’s interpretation of the word). I would sit with desperate mothers and / or fathers with their eyes wide open in worry repeatedly asking me what I thought the outcome to the case would be. How to relay to the client that the reality is that the children will most likely be made subject to care orders and ultimately adopted. How to tell the client that we are merely going through a kangaroo court process whereby the majority of children are taken from loving parents once the machine (i.e the court process) has been switched on.”
“Throughout proceedings clients would genuinely believe that ‘justice would prevail’ and the courts would see that the children are better of at home with mum and dad. As any other barrister, and for good reason, I told parents that there is no certainty in proceedings…. I did not have the heart to crush their spirits from the outset. I truly believe that we are living in tragic times at the moment
Junior Barrister: Elizabeth Gunther
www.counselling-directory.org.uk. ARE THERE IF YOU NEED COUNSELLING THERAPY OR GENERAL SUPPORT !
DON’T GET EVICTED WITHOUT SEEKING HELP !!
Jenny Lynn Open Mind Therapy Essex – UK Tel: 01371 859994 Mobile: 07773 919071
Hi Ian, Thank you so much for your advice. Very helpful for me to help my lady. My details are as below. If people want to join me on facebook, they need to private message me so I know how they’ve come through as I don’t accept people who aren’t connected to me in some way. I can offer support but I can’t do it for free. Currently I am paid for by Brent Adoption Service to offer ‘grief’ counselling for my lady on the loss of her first child to adoption. How you can ever successfully negotiate and clear grief in this case is impossible for me to imagine. We are hoping that Essex will offer her the same for her soon to be adopted twins. And we are fighting for her last remaining child to stay with her. I am offering my time to support her in court completely free of charge and I am thinking of doing some crowd-funding for her case to support her and me with our expenses. Please feel free to post my details and this note on your site if you think it would help other people.
AN ASOCIATION THAT PROTECTS HUMAN RIGHTS BUT SO FAR DOES LITTLE TO PROTECT PARENTS WHO HAVE COMMITTED NO CRIMES BUT WHOSE CHILDREN ARE NEVERTHELESS REMOVED FOR FORCED ADOPTION;They do have power and inflence so pressure them to help you if you have been the victim of “punishment without crime”!
You can call our advice line on these numbers:
0845 123 2307 020 3145 0461
If you are calling from a mobile phone the “020” number may be the cheaper number to use.
The line is open at the following times:
Monday and Thursday 6.30pm – 8.30pm Wednesday 12.30pm – 2.30pm
Voluntary sector organisations should call when the line is open on Wednesdays. Private individuals are of course free to call during any of the three sessions.
David O Hanlon
Want to track down your adopted child or missing parent?
www.i-am-adopted.com can help you !
If you go to the main library in London or ,Manchester .Look in the files of birth ,deaths ,marriages ,and there are also adoption records ,which only tell you the person’s adopted name, date of birth, and date of adoption on the record .So you copy all the records then you work through them and eliminate say your child was a boy ,you eliminate all girls,all twins,and so on ,then when you have got it down to just a few you can send off for a copy of adoption certs which give you all the details .People think they can’t trace their adopted children . This would shock the social services if they knew how easy it was to trace adopted kids ..
A woman traced her adopted daughter on my forum this way
Don’t forget you can use facebook,twitter,genes united,friends united and countless other similar sites. Once found ask me for help in reuniting your family.
Dear ian some really great news the girls are now at home living with us as a family ….The adoptive parents have agreed with it and are willing to do what they can to get me back my parental rights and for the girls to collect all there belongings etc from the adoptive home we are all very happy and quite shocked at the moment …Kind Regards Tracey
(google “Winona Varney” to see details of this story or “Von and Tammy” for a second successful reunion)
First however you have to find your forcibly adopted child.If you need help in this some of the following organisations might be able to help you.
http://ukadoptionregister.org/ FIND YOUR ADOPTED CHILD !
THERE ARE BARRISTERS AND SOLICITORS WHO ACT FREE OF CHARGE IF YOU CANNOT GET LEGAL AID:-
WHAT YOU CAN DO !
Please note well,you can appeal any lower court decision,whether it be a magistrates court or county court,or even crown court ! Anyone who tells you differently is a barefaced liar ! If the judge as sometimes happens says “I refuse leave to appeal” then appeal against his/her refusal,and demand an oral hearing !Go to the court and ask for the correct form for your appeal.Do not take it home ,just fill it in while you are there and ask the staff to explain the meaning of any question or anything else you do not understand.Do not delay or they may say you are out of time !Get a receipt when you leave your appeal form with the court staff !
The process is the same if you want to oppose the renewal of an interim care order,get a residence order or special guardianship, get an adoption order revoked or care order discharged ; you must ask the staff IN THE SAME COURT WHERE YOU APPEARED PREVIOUSLYfor the correct form ,fill it in, then hand it in and get a receipt !
I repeat ” you must ask the staff for the correct form fill it in, then hand it in and get a receipt ! The staff in the court are paid to explain anything on the form you do not understand but cannot give legal advice or tell you what to write on the form as that is your case! Do NOT take the form home ! Go to the court in the morning and stay all day if necessary until the form is completed , you have handed it in and got a receipt.
To represent yourself sack your solicitor and your barrister in writing .If you do not do this the court will usually send all future correspondence and sometimes vital statements of evidence to your solicitor even though you have told all concerned that you wish to represent yourself.
Just,write the followin sentence”I no longer wish a solicitor or barrister to act for me as I now wish to represent myself.
Send this recorded delivery to the court,to your solicitor,and to the local authority legal dept.
Let me repeat!How to appeal , to apply for contact,or to oppose the renewal of an “order”(interim , contact or injunction for example)
Go to the same court in the morning and ask the staff for the correct form when you have explained what you want to do.Stay in the court to fill it in and ask help from the staff if there is a question that you do not understand.They are paid to explain legal terms but NOT of course to help you make your case.Do not go home before you have finished completing the form then get a receipt after you have handed it in for the staff to file.
Revoking a Placement order for Adoption
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 received Royal Assent and therefore became law on 7th November 2002. However, the Act finally came into full effect on 30th December 2005. One of the provisions was that “Freeing Orders” for Adoption were replaced by “Placement Orders”.
After one year has expired from the date of the placement order for adoption, the local authority are bound by law to inform the former parents whether an adoption order has been made and (if not) whether the child is currently placed for adoption.
If the child has not been adopted after 12 months then the parents are legally entitled to apply to The High Court for the placement order to be revoked (cancelled) on the grounds that they wish to resume parental responsibility.
While the application is pending the adoption agency or local authority having parental responsibility shall not place the child for adoption without the leave of the court.
Court of Appeal gives important guidance on adoption applications
‘Sloppy practice’ must stop, warns Court
The Court of Appeal – comprising Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, Sir James Munby, the president of the Family Division, and Lady Justice Black – has given important guidance as to the proper approach to applications for adoption orders and for leave to oppose adoption orders.
In an unanimous judgment in Re B-S (Children)  EWCA Civ 1146, the President said:
“We have real concerns, shared by other judges, about the recurrent inadequacy of the analysis and reasoning put forward in support of the case for adoption, both in the materials put before the court by local authorities and guardians and also in too many judgments. This is nothing new. But it is time to call a halt.” 
See especially:- Para34:-First, there must be proper evidence both from the local authority and from the guardian. The evidence must address all the options which are realistically possible and must contain an analysis of the arguments for and against each option. As Ryder LJ said in Re R (Children)  EWCA Civ 1018, para 20 , what is required is: “evidence of the lack of alternative options for the children and an analysis of the evidence that is accepted by the court sufficient to drive it to the conclusion that nothing short of adoption is appropriate for the children.”
The same judge indicated in Re S, K v The London Borough of Brent  EWCA Civ 926, para 21, that what is needed is: “An assessment of the benefits and detriments of each option for placement and in particular the nature and extent of the risk of harm involved in each of the options”.
McFarlane LJ made the same point in Re G (A Child)  EWCA Civ 965, para 48, when he identified: “the need to take in to account the negatives, as well as the positives, of any plan to place a child away from her natural family”.
We agree with all of this.
Lastly if the judge seems dead set on adoption and against returning a child to the birth parents you do have an alternative approach…..
Request the judge to make an order for “special guardianship”(SGO) on the grounds that at least this will mean contact is not lost for ever ! You can reasonably request contact four times per year if you can convince the court that you will not use contact to undermine the SGO placement.
The Prospective Adopters v London Borough of Croydon 2014
The Judge in this case concluded that an adoption order was preferable for this child than SGO, weighing the pros and cons of each type of order, and bearing in mind that adoption could not be sanctioned unless “nothing else will do”The point is however that the judge seriousl considered special guardianship as an option but rejected it largely because the child had very special needs
If you have never attended a court before; these 3 videos by barrister LUCY REED explain exceptionally clearly ,how to prepare for court ,what happens there, how to present your evidence and how to ask questions of “opposition witnesses”.
Lucy does not necessarily agree with any of the views expressed on this site, but we both do agree that parents representing themselves need clear but professional help, and these videos do provide that !
Welcome to the Personal Support Unit Website
The PSU is an independent charity, based in the main building at the Royal Courts of Justice in Strand, London. The PSU provides non-legal advice, help, information and support to litigants in person and to any member of the public attending at the Royal Courts of Justice who may need help or assistance. We also operate at the Principal Registry of the Family Division at First Avenue House, High Holborn and at Wandsworth County Court.
The PSU was established in January 2001 and achieved charitable status in January 2002. It is a company limited by guarantee with a board of 9 Trustees.
The Courts are a daunting and intimidating place for those involved in legal proceedings. For those who do not have legal representation the difficulties are made worse. We try to overcome these difficulties by providing practical advice and support.
What we can do for you –
- We can go around the court building with you.
- We can go into court with you and stay with you during the hearing. (When the court is sitting in chambers or in private, we will need the permission of the judge and other parties).
- We offer emotional support and practical information about what happens in court or at the RCJ offices.
- We have a room where you can wait, talk through your case or just have a cup of tea.
- We can normally help you straightaway – just ring 020 7947 7703 .
- LITIGANTS IN PERSON:- www.courtroomadvice.co.uk
- If you are representing yourself in court, you may be worried about what to expect. ‘Litigants in person’ as they are called, often appear on their own behalf out of necessity. Although you may not think it at the moment, it can in some circumstances be quite advantageous to represent yourself. You know your case better than anyone else, and the judge and the lawyer for the other party have to help you to understand the legal issues in your case. When dealing with a litigant in person it is a judge’s duty to ensure that they are not disadvantaged. In practical terms this means that the judge will often explain the law to you, and any procedural aspects that you need to understand for the purposes of the hearing. If the other party is represented by a lawyer, they also have to ensure that they point out not only the elements of the law that assist their case, but must also tell you the law where it assists your case (i.e. that is detrimental to their own case.) Lawyers representing the other side have to balance their obligations to their own client while not taking unfair advantage of an unrepresented party. This may mean that the lawyer has to limit their duty to act in the best interests of their own client. Although the lawyer has to help you to a certain extent, they must also be careful that any assistance you provide does not create a contractual relationship between you and the other side’s lawyer. This may happen, for example, if they provide advice that you subsequently act upon. The exact nature of the duty that a lawyer owes to an unrepresented party depends on whether the lawyer is a barrister or a solicitor. A solicitor’s overriding duty is to his or her client. A barrister’s duty, however, is somewhat different. A barrister owes equal duties to the court and to his or her client. This means, for example, that a barrister cannot knowingly tell a lie to the court on behalf of his or her client. This extends to you as an unrepresented party. A barrister cannot therefore make a statement to you that they know to be false. If they unwittingly tell you something that is not true, they have to tell you as soon as they become aware of it
- Difference Between Barrister And Solicitor
- Duty Of The Other Side’s Lawyers
- The Judge’s Duty
A litigant in person (LiP) is an individual, company or organisation that is not represented in court by a solicitor or barrister.
Help4LiPs (H4L) was conceived of by a couple of Litigants in Person over lunch and then ratified as a concept in an informal meeting at The Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) with Directors of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Personal Support Unit (PSU) and High Court.
Since that time, with early seed money from the London Legal Trust and a few private individuals and continuous loans from the co-founders Brad Meyer and Jeff Lampert, H4L has been attracting, capturing, simplifying and re-presenting (via the web) some of the expert knowledge of legal professionals.
Our goals: Help LiPs access timely information on legal process and relevant content and to fill this site in 2014.
Our approach: Help4LiPs Multimedia
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Why painkillers and anti-depressants are killing MORE Britons than heroin and cocaine
We are being given a wake-up call here and, as a country, we need to take a long hard look at what’s happening
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs now kill more people in Britain than heroin and cocaine. That is a startling and very worrying statistic.
We are being given a wake-up call here and, as a country, we need to take a long hard look at what’s happening.
Last year 807 people died in the UK as a result of taking anti-depressants and painkillers compared with 718 deaths linked to cocaine and heroin abuse.
We have to urgently look at what other options there are to help people with the challenges they face in their lives.
It is a growing problem and at Addaction we are increasingly seeing people who’ve been misusing prescription drugs for the treatment of pain or depression.
Some are even addicted to over-the-counter painkillers that don’t require a prescription.
Often we imagine we would notice if someone was an addict – they couldn’t function normally, they couldn’t cope. But often it isn’t immediately apparent.
In many cases people start taking these medications simply to treat a specific ailment, and they do so in small quantities.
But over time their dependency and needs grow and it become about treating a wider problem.
One of the most worrying abuses is that of codeine which, although much weaker, comes from the same family of substances as heroin and morphine.
It can now be found in a very large number of products, far more than 10 years ago.
There are about 15 different products using this drug and some 27 million pills are sold every year containing codeine.
Current guidelines warn users that it can become addictive after just three days.
Although you don’t need a prescription to buy them, in 2009 measures were introduced to regulate their use.
Individuals must present themselves to a pharmacist who will consider whether they need the drugs.
But it is relatively easy for someone who is hooked on the pills to visit several pharmacies in a big town or city.
Individuals may start taking painkillers if they’ve broken their leg or injured their back, and then find they are addicted.
With any addiction there can be withdrawal symptoms ranging from mood swings to sickness and even physical pain.
To counteract those, the addict feels the need to seek out more of the substance, often in increasingly large doses, to get the same effect.
During the past decade the number of prescriptions issued rose 68 per cent, reaching a peak of 927 million a year by 2010.
Nearly 1.5 million people in the UK are now estimated to be addicted to drugs such as benzodiazepine – known as Valium.
It can take much longer to wean someone off over-the-counter medicines like these than heroin and cocaine.
The effects and withdrawal symptoms can be just as strong too.
Of course, part of the reason more people are being prescribed anti-depressants is that more may be overcoming the stigma of having mental health issues and are visiting their GPs for help.
But there are other ways to treat anxiety and depression – such as professional counselling – that don’t require these drugs, many of which people don’t always realise are addictive.
We have made great strides in reducing the tragic deaths relating to illegal drugs and we have to be able to do the same thing with over-the-counter and prescription medication, too.
We also need to get past the idea that just because a drug is legal, or given to you by a pharmacist or doctor, it is safer than a street drug.
Any drug will have an effect, whether it is crack cocaine or tobacco. Those effects will differ but each has its risks.
We need to look at the reasons someone has become addicted, not just at the drug they have chosen.
But remember that there is always help and support available for people who need it, or are worried about a loved one.
I would scream at my GP – I just wanted the drugs: By Cathryn Kemp
I WILL never forget the day my GP cut off my supply at the end of 2009 – five years after I was first had acute pancreatitis.
I had suffered 40 episodes of it over those years and was given morphine in hospital to deal with the pain. I received a prescription when I left for Fentanyl lozenges, a strong opiate medication.
I was told not to take more than eight a day but within months I was taking 60 a day. The thought of living without pain relief was simply unbearable.
Every few days, I would go to my GP and shout and scream for my drugs, not caring if people in the surgery had heard me. I just wanted my drugs. Eventually he told me: “No more.”
So I sold my house, borrowed some money from my parents and went into a private rehab.
Six weeks later I was off Fentanyl, after a brutal withdrawal and pain I can barely describe.