Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

More than 40,000 opioids dished out to Tayside patients annually

Addaction service manager Dave Barrie.
Addaction service manager Dave Barrie.

Nearly 300,000 opioids have been prescribed to patients in Tayside over the last seven years.

The number of painkillers handed out by GPs has risen since 2012 (39,510), peaking in 2016 with 42,215.

2017 and 2018 saw a slight dip, with 41,741 and 41,471 opioids prescribed respectively.

The numbers have remained consistently above 40,000 since 2013, however.

That is at odds with the national picture, which shows a 4.4% reduction in the past five years.

A leading Dundee drugs expert has warned people are at risk of becoming addicted to painkillers in the same way as illicit drugs.

>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The Courier newsletter

The drugs, which produce morphine-like effects, can be used to treat anything from headaches to pain following invasive surgery.

However, in recent years there has been growing concern about their addictive nature and, in rare instances, their potential to cause death.

Dave Barrie, Addaction service manager, said: “A lot of those opioids that are prescribed will probably be the right thing to do. They are prescribed for a multitude of reasons.

“At times we do see people who have been prescribed them and are struggling. They’re using opioids or other drugs to cope.

“It’s a dangerously addictive group of drugs, but they are also the most effective painkillers.

“At least the figures have plateaued somewhat, rather than continuing to rise. Everyone is aware that there are risks with taking these kind of drugs.

“But if anyone does think they are struggling with opioid addiction, they can contact Addaction for confidential support.”

An ageing population has been suggested as a reason for the increase.

NHS Tayside’s Interim Director of Pharmacy David Coulson said: “Following a clinical assessment patients may be prescribed opioids as part of their medication regime to manage their condition.

“People are living longer, often with chronic long-term and life-limiting conditions, and patients require these medications to help manage their conditions and improve their quality of life.

“Different types of opioids are prescribed by doctors in different strengths and administered in various forms, depending on the patient and their situation. There are many types of prescribed opioids that are known by several names, including codeine, morphine and fentanyl.

“It is very important that patients who are prescribed opioid medications read the leaflets given out with every dispensed medicine. These leaflets list clear warnings and precautions for the safe use of these medicines.”

Last year a study by several Scottish universities found that the number of prescriptions for the strongest opioids, including morphine and fentanyl, had more than doubled in a decade.

In the wake of the study, the Scottish Government confirmed it would review national prescription policies for high-strength painkillers.

Already a subscriber? Sign in