Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Could You Be an Accidental Addict? Over-the-Counter Drugs May Be Readily Available, but That Doesn't Mean They Don't Come with Risks. ELLA WALKER Reports on the Bitter Side of Popping Those Pain Little Pills

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Could You Be an Accidental Addict? Over-the-Counter Drugs May Be Readily Available, but That Doesn't Mean They Don't Come with Risks. ELLA WALKER Reports on the Bitter Side of Popping Those Pain Little Pills

Article excerpt

Byline: ELLA WALKER

IT'S so easily done... A couple of ibuprofen here, some antihistamine there, two more paracetamol to keep that pesky headache at bay. Are you even keeping count? If you're prone to reaching straight for the pain relief medicine without always considering if: A; you've eaten or drunk enough (a must if you're taking ibuprofen), or B; you've exceeded the maximum daily dosage (always read the back of the packet!), you're not alone.

A recent ITV documentary, Over-the-Counter Addiction, explored the nation's relationship with non-prescription codeinebased painkillers, and how quick we are to knock them back.

The programme also delved deeper, looking at tightened regulations, the risks of addiction and just how easy pills are to buy in large batches, considering the proceeds boost the drugs industry by some PS500million every year.

GETTING HOOKED NICK Barton, chief executive of charity Action on Addiction, explains that addiction to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines is a situation you can inadvertently end up in without really realising.

"Addiction to over-thecounter medications, like those with a codeine base, begins because the drugs are effective," he says. "They generally do what they say they will: make a person feel better. But this is what encourages people to repeat the use.

"The trouble is, while they may begin use to alleviate a symptom, through repetition they end up taking it simply to avoid withdrawal and, in a vicious circle, may also develop more symptoms."

WHAT ARE THESE OTC MEDICINES? THE NHS defines OTC medicines as 'general sales list (GSL)' medicines on their website, and explains: "You can buy GSL medicines from pharmacies, supermarkets and other retail outlets without the supervision of a pharmacist and without a prescription.

OTC medicines include those used to treat minor illnesses that you may feel aren't serious enough to see your GP or pharmacist about. …

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