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    UK Hospital Medical Director Says Drug Availability Recruits More Addicts

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    The National Statistics Office has revealed that drug-related deaths in the UK are going up. It’s also becoming easier for patients and addicts to buy meds online, with little oversight from medical watchdogs. We spoke with Jonathan Chick, Medical director of Castle Craig Hospital and a consultant psychiatrist specializing in addiction about it.

    Sputnik: Why are people turning to online consultations for diagnosis- oftentimes complaining of false symptoms, with dubious medical records?

    Jonathan Chick: People with addiction are very prone to rewrite their script. Because once you are addicted to a substance, your brain tells you that you need it. Your brain is highjacked, and you will try by any means necessary to obtain the drug your brain is telling you that you need.

    Sputnik: What about technologies such as the Internet, or the dark web, do you think that these platforms and the way that they facilitate drug use are fuelling already existing addictions, or helping to create new addicts?

    Jonathan Chick: All I can say is that drug deaths are increasing in Wales and England; there’s been an announcement today. It was also announced in Scotland in May that drug deaths are increasing. Now that is not totally explained by the new availability online. It is also somewhat related to a cohort of ageing addicts, who are very vulnerable in a number ways due to chest disease, etc. However, in clinical practice, we are seeing an increasing number of patients who are using internet sources for their substances. Whereas 10-15 years ago, it was more common for people to purchase drugs on the street corner, or phone up their dealer. This was quite risky, because you were breaking the law to obtain a drug that was not being prescribed for you. And also of course, some of the substances were illegal. Another factor is that there are an increasing number of pharmaceutical products which have a legitimate license, but are causing addiction.

    The opiate scandal is well known. It has hit America harder than here, but there are also some new players on the market. Pregabalin was referred to by The Independent as today's Valium. The trade name is Lyrica, but Pregabalin is a highly-addictive product and is related also to another new man on the block, which is called Gabapentin. So these can be prescribed for medical conditions, and they are licensed. But they are claimed by addicts for use to get high, or for controlling withdrawal symptoms.

    Sputnik: So what’s to blame for this increase in drug-related fatalities?

    Jonathan Chick: I think the ageing drug addiction aspect is one factor, but greater availability is the other very important factor. Availability with all substances; whether it’s alcohol, gambling, heroin or marijuana, availability recruits more addicts. The Internet has made drugs more available.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    addiction, drugs, United Kingdom
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