NICE Guidelines – Benzodiazepine and Z-Drug Withdrawal


The Benzodiazepine Medical Disaster by Shane Kenny – featuring interviews with Professors Heather Ashton and Malcolm Lader.

The history of benzodiazepines is told in detail at

They include tranquillisers and sleeping pills and are used primarily to treat anxiety and insomnia.  Since the introduction of the first benzodiazepines in the 1960s (e.g. valium, librium)  the victims of prescribed drug dependence have been largely ignored by the UK Government.

Initially, benzodiazepines were seen as “wonder drugs” and were freely prescribed for anxiety, insomnia and many other medical problems.

By the 1970s/1980s it had become clear that dependency was a serious problem.  Preliminary research by Prof Malcolm Lader suggested that long-term  use could cause brain damage.  This was never followed up.

Patients suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms. Barry Haslam, Oldham is one such patient and he has campaigned tirelessly for 30 years.  Oldham has one of the few NHS support facilities in the UK.

Apart from ADS, support for affected patients is mainly provided by a number of small charities in England.

In the late 1980s, thousands of patients attempted to sue two of the drug companies and the Department of Health but the case collapsed and patients were left with nothing.

An All Party Parliamentary Group on Tranquilliser Addiction was set up in the House of Commons by the late MP, Jim Dobbin.  This evolved into the Action Platform for Patient Groups on Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction.

Still no effective action has been taken.