Is Dorset in the grip of an 'over-medication crisis'

Is Dorset in the grip of an 'over-medication crisis'

Published by Maria Greenwood at 11:30am 13th September 2019.

Highly addictive opioid painkillers have been prescribed to tens of thousands of adults in Dorset.

Public Health England figures show that over 75,000 adults in the Dorset Clinical Commissioning group area received at least one or more prescriptions for opioid painkillers in 2017-18.

That's 12% of the adult population. 

Almost half the residents on a prescription for the drugs during March last year had been taking them for a year or more.


The figures exclude people who were prescribed the drugs for cancer pain.

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary said the country is "in the grip of an over-medication crisis."

He said:

"The disturbing findings of the report, especially that one in eight adults in England are taking super-strength, addictive opioid painkillers, many for extended periods of time, prove to me that we are in the grip of an over-medication crisis.

"What is equally alarming is that in many cases, these medicines are unlikely to be working effectively due to over-use."


Opioids are known to be ineffective for most people over the long term, but many patients struggle to come off the drugs.

Although PHE was unable to put a figure on how many people were addicted to the painkillers, it said patients must be warned via a national helpline about dependency risks, and receive advice on coping with withdrawal.