When most people hear the phrase drug addiction, they tend to think of illegal substances.

But increasing numbers are become dependent on prescription drugs with some users getting hold of the medication from online sites or dealers rather than from a qualified doctor. And although these drugs are legal when prescribed by a medical professional, they can be extremely dangerous when they are misused.

Prescription Drug Addiction Increase

Government statistics reveal that a record level of people died in 2014 after taking benzodiazepines – a group of drugs used to treat anxiety and insomnia. The figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 372 deaths linked to benzodiazepines in England and Wales – the highest number since records began back in 1993.

During 2014, more than 10 million prescriptions were issued for benzodiazepines but there are concerns that people have been buying these drugs illegally.

Jason Houghton, a 24-year-old paramedic, died in June 2014 after he started taking benzodiazepines to help him sleep after working irregular shifts. He bought the tablets from online retailers based in other countries and soon became addicted and resigned from his job.

Users order medication online

His father Keith Houghton told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There were some in Romania. There was one in Germany, another in Pakistan and he was basically ordering them from his home bedroom and getting them delivered by Royal Mail.

“We were so shocked, as any parent would be, that this was so available to anyone. If you’ve got a credit card and access to the internet you can order these kind of drugs straight to your home.”

At an inquest into Jason’s death Manchester West coroner Alan Walsh recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. The medical cause of death was the toxic effects of ketamine, heroin, diazepam and dextromethorphan.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre , almost 18,000 people in England received medical treatment in hospital after taking benzodiazepines during 2014/15. The figures also show 584 children needed hospital treatment after using this type of drug.

If you’re concerned someone you love may be abusing prescription medication, drug testing may help you identify whether there is a problem.

AlphaBiolabs are able to test for a large number of drugs, including benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, diazepam and temazepam. We offer testing services to members of the public as well as employers who are concerned substances may be being misused in the workplace.