Top Ten Tips: Dependence Forming Medications

There is growing concern about the potential risks associated with the long-term prescription of dependence forming medicines (DFMs). 

Dependence here refers to a need to continue taking a medicine to maintain a state of normality and to avoid symptoms of withdrawal.

NHS data from NatCen Social Research shows that prescriptions of dependence-forming medicines (opioids, benzodiazepines, ‘z-drugs’ used for insomnia and GABA-ergic medicines) in primary care are rising. In 2000, 6% of patients were prescribed at least one of these types of drug, and in 2015, this figure rose to 9%. 

Previous research into potentially dependence-forming medicines (DFM) has found evidence of an increase in prescribing in primary care. However, these analyses tended to examine trends in the number of prescriptions, rather than trends in the number of patients being prescribed to or the length of time they are prescribed for. Because of this, we have produced a 'Top Ten Tips: Dependence Forming Medications' for general practice teams, which outlines the key issues to consider when prescribing DFMs. 

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