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Patients voice concern about overdependence on painkillers

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A third of people in pain in the UK are concerned about the extent to which they depend on painkillers to manage their daily lives.

The survey carried out by charity Nuffield Health found that 33 per cent of those taking medication to alleviate their pain were worried about their reliance on painkillers. It also revealed that almost four in 10 (37 per cent) required them to continue working.

The survey also found more than a third (36 per cent) of people using painkillers are taking potentially habit-forming drugs. A smaller group (7 per cent) are using stronger opiates, including morphine and pethidine, and one in 10 said they use sleeping pills.

Almost two thirds sought treatment from a GP, with one in six (16 per cent) unhappy with the outcome; a third (32 per cent) cited only being prescribed painkillers as the source of their frustration, while a quarter (25 per cent) thought their doctor lacked enough knowledge about their condition.

Cabella Lowe, Nuffield Health's, professional head of hysiotherapy, said: 'The most important action is to seek expert advice quickly as research shows that early intervention is key to getting rid of pain.

'Worries about dependency are high and match an increasing trend for people to use painkillers as a solution. Any concerns people have about their reliance on painkillers should be addressed urgently.'

The report - based on interviews with 1,659 people - found that one in seven of those questioned admitted to exceeding the recommended daily dosage of drugs in order to combat pain and its effects.

A quarter (26 per cent) have taken painkillers for five years or more. Among these long-term users the percentage concerned about their level of dependency rose to 38 per cent.

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