A groundbreaking Irish documentary presented by Dr. Eva Orsmond, a weight loss expert, and aired Monday night on RTE, Ireland's national television revealed some shocking facts about the use and abuse of prescription medications in the country. Here are 8 alarming highlights from Dr. Orsmond's documentary titled "Medication Nation".
1. Medication Prescriptions are on the Rise in Ireland
Ireland spends 77% more on medications than Norway, the richest nation in Europe and the number of pharmacies per capita in Ireland is nearly double the number of pharmacies in the UK. The number of prescriptions for various drugs has skyrocketed from about 32 million in 2000 to nearly 73.5 million in 2015, without counting private prescriptions. About 22% of Irish people aged 65 and above take 10 different medication or more per day, while 60% of the same age group take 5 or even more per day.
2 A Pill For Each and Every Ill
Antidepressants are among the medications which are most prescribed in the country and 1 in 10 ten Irish people ( over 450,000 ) are on these drugs. However, Dr. Declan Ahern, Head of Counseling at the Limerick University doesn't consider antidepressants as the appropriate route to treating mild to moderate mental health issues, especially in younger individuals.
3. Inappropriate Benzo Prescribing
Anti-anxiety drugs Xanax ( alprazolam) and Valium ( diazepam) are number 27 and 30, respectively, in the top 100 list of most prescribed drugs in the State. A report published in the IMJ in 2016 suggests there was evidence that benzodiazepine prescribing continues to persist in the country in both residential care and general practice settings.
4. " Benzos Have Destroyed my Life"
Dr. Eva Orsmond talked with former governement press secretary and RTE news anchor Shane Kenny about the impact of benzodiazepines on his life. In 2010, Kenny was diagnosed with Meniere's disease, a condition affecting the inner ear and causing severe vertigo. He was prescribed Valium but soon started to experience really bizarre symptoms, particularly severe shooting pain and an acute sound sensitivity ( everyday sounds seemed like a "boiling kettle" him). Kenny eventually discovered that these symptoms were, in fact, benzo side effects. In Dr. Orsmond's documentary, he warned people about the dangers of taking benzodiazepines, stating that these drugs should be taken for a couple of days only.
5. High Cost of Counseling
People who hold medical cards in Ireland are entitled to 8 counseling sessions free of charge, but waiting lists are typically months long. Many Irish people in need of counseling cannot afford to pay about 100 Euros per session. Mother of two Fiona Kennedy, who suffers from borderline personalty disorder raised money to pay for the treatment she needed asking her blog readers and friends on Facebook. She advised people who struggle with a particular condition that requires counseling to ask for help before reaching a crisis point.
6. Benzos Potentially More Dangerous than Heroin
In Ireland, benzo poisoning causes more deaths than heroin overdoses, with the number of people seeking treatment for their benzo dependence almost doubling since 2009. One of the patients of Michael Guerin of the Cuan Mhuire treatment facility in Limerick confessed to Dr. Orsmond that people who use heroin will usually say that benzos are much worse than the opioid heroin - they are lethal.
7. Popping Pills the Irish Way
As Dr. Orsmond stressed, the issue with over-prescription is growing in Ireland. Irish people seem to have an affinity for popping pills, with sales for codeine, for instance, soaring in recent times. When Dr. Orsmond went to 30 pharmacies in Dublin to purchase Solphadene, three pharmacists fail to ask any specific questions, which is a breach of protocol.
8. Shocking Regional Discrepancies
Only 4% of people in Dublin South are taking benzos, compared to 10% in other regions of the State and to 20% for those holding a medical card. About 1 in 5 people who hold medical cards in Ireland are taking anti-anxiety medication. According to statistics, more diazepam was prescribed in 2012 in Cork 's North inner city area than in any other part in the nation.
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