Should GPs be FORCING their patients off Nitrazepam?

Posted , 7 users are following.

My 67 year old mother had her prescribed medicines "review" over the telephone a couple of weeks ago, during which the young GP forced her to come off Nitrazepam (saying that they were no longer being produced and using scare tactics such as they can lead to dementia). The GP said she would prescribe my Mum Diazepam temporarily as a substitute to get her over the side effects. I'm not sure if this is the correct procedure for coming off Nitrazepam, but my Mum was prescribed both drugs from the early 1970s - following two nervous breakdowns (hospitalised) she eventually managed (took a long time) to get herself off the Diazepam. She tried to come off Nitrazepam a few years ago but the side effects were so horrendous compared with when she weaned herself off the Diaz - that she continued taking them, and feels fine on them. Now the GP is forcing her to come off Nitraz completely and go onto Diaz (which she took herself off successfully previously). She said to the GP that she didn't feel strong enough to come off the Nitraz, but the GP didn't listen to her. My poor Mum is now in a complete state about it, contemplating suicide, not wanting to live or fight her corner any more (most certainly not the correct state to even consider coming off these tablets). I've complained to the GP surgery officially and they want to see my parents face-to-face and early indications are that they're going to say that the "over-the-phone" review stands - even though my Mum was effectively bullied into coming off the tablets on the spot over the phone (like some nasty sales call) and she is completely beside herself at the prospects. I can only hope that they will reconsider, but it's not looking promising at the moment, and I'm living in complete dread at what will become of her if they continue down the path of what they want and do not listen to her wishes. I know that people wish to come off this medication and that ultimately it may be better for them, but surely that's the patient's choice at the end of the day (as the NICE guidance from July 2013 clearly states), and the GP should show support and concern (and a duty of care?) to a patient who doesn't feel they are strong enough mentally to undergo this withdrawal after such a long time of taking the drug - not just force them to undergo it regardless.


1 like, 10 replies

10 Replies

  • Posted

    This is horrendous.

    My nan had the same problems. She had a breakdown and was on diazepam for forty years. She never tried to get off them and didn't really have any plans too. She was fine being on them.

    They tried to tell her after forty years that she was to come off them and would be given zopiclone instead which where no good to her. She didn't use the diazepam to sleep,she would take just one in the mornings,I think more out of habit and addiction than need. 

    What I'm trying to say is that I think at age 67(which was the same age as my nan too),it's a bit late in the day to be worrying about addictions. They where prescribed these drugs many years ago and have a dependency. I think the stress it would cause to take them off them would have far more of a impact than actually staying on the drug would.

    The medical industry disgust me with things like this. I really feel for these

    • Posted

      Hi Gillian. Thanks for your helpful comments. I totally agree with you that the stress caused by even threatening to take people off a drug that they have become addicted to and depend upon over many years, is probably more detrimental to their health and well-being than the "possibility" of them getting dementia. More importantly - at the end of the day, it's their body, so it should be their choice. Hope they continue to leave your Nan alone as she knows what is and feels best for her. Best wishes, Vanessa.
  • Posted

    I am horrified to read this posting on Nitrazepam and just checked re the comment about taking it off the market which is untrue.  After going without sleep for many nights back in the 60's I was in hospital and given a dose of 4 x 5 mg Nitrazepam for a week.  Had a wonderful sleep but realised I could not keep up that dose. !!!! When I was discharged I gave up a stressful job I was in and tried to stop the Nitra. but again  did not sleep at all.  I asked for help but was told by my doctor  that my condition warranted that I should  continue the drug for life which I did and have never looked back. However, in  1990 I was asked by my GP if I would like to go to a withdrawal group.   I did manage to cut down my dose from 2 tablets to l and have a great sleep with no morning side effects. (if I happen to take 2 I still am not sleepy in the mornings and at the grand old age of 79 I am very active and only suffer with Pagets disease.  When in the group , at one stage,  I cut down to 1/2 a tab. I became really ill and passing out so saw a psychiatrist who told me that it seemed rather stupid to try to take me off something that was of great benefit to me.   Of course, it would be lovely to never have to take any medication for anything but in the real world that is not possible.   I do hope that this information will be of some help and these untrue scares are stopped.
    • Posted

      Hello sapphireN - thanks so much for your helpful comments. Yes one of the most annoying aspects of this is that both my Mum (and my Dad in a later phone conversation with the same doctor) were both told by the doctor that Nitraz was not being produced any more - I found no evidence of that either - I mean, just imagine the outcry if that were actually true! They are not an easy tablet to come off - even gradually, as you are well aware. My Mum too was previously told by the proper mental health doctors of old, that she should continue on these for the rest of her life. But of course things change, including the more modern doctors' take on drugs such as these - the trouble is they don't seem to stop and consider the patient any more, and really they are not in any great knowledgeable position to advise - you mention you saw a psychiatrist, who I believe would be far more knowledgeable about these kinds of situations that a general practitioner - so much so that I think we will demand to see a proper psychiatrist if things don't go well when my Mum sees the senior doctor a week on Friday - so thank you for that information. All the best to you. Vanessa  
  • Posted

    i was disgusted and horrified when i read what you said,i think it is cruel what doctors are doing i am takiing diazepam and nitrepam for years,but got a letter y/day saying they want to try and get me off them,i suffer very bad with anxiety and this has sent me in to a complete panic the withdrawal of coming of these is hell snd lasts for years things are very bad at home and just wouldnt be able to cope i think it is my choise if i want to stay on them i'm 62 now and dont see the point i would rather be dead than have years of terrible withdrawal they are worse than coming of heroin
  • Posted

    I feel for you.My GPs are also forcing me off of NITRAZEPAM.They have not given me a valid reason as to why i must come of them.I have suffered 8 heart attacks and a stroke, I also have a blocked stent in a heart vessel that cannot be touched.I begged them to not do this because i cannot take the stress of comming off of this. I am almost 71 years old. This has got to be stopped. I am also diabetic,2 fungi in my lungs and 9 wedge fractures of the spine plus other medical problems.
  • Posted

    Hi people,I am 65 years old and female.I have been on initially Mogadon then Nitrazepam for over 30 years(5mg) I am now being forced to stop taking them by my crazy GP which is totally out of the question.

    I first signed up with this GP about 6 years ago and when I had the acceptance to go on his books he was concerned about this medication,asking how long,why & accepted that I was hooked,as I never saw a GP for 2 years always getting a repeat prescription filled with no problem.

    As part of his acceptance onto his books,he asked that I write a "Waver Letter " to take all responsibility off his shoulders if anything regarding the Nitrazepam happened to me  which I agreed to,and promptly wrote the letter as he required,hand delivered it and was seen by the GP,& it's still (or should be in the file now I hope!) 

    For all these years I have had no problem until last week when I requested my usual medications as well as Clopidogrel,Zapain,Ranitidine and Salbutamol due to having suffered ill health that consists of a AAA,Atherioslerosis (hardening of the arteries) in my leg which was initially diagnosed as Sciatica by him.

    Little did I know that he can actually diagnose something without leaving his desk,either mummbling behind his dest at the computer and not touching a person in any way shape or form,he is pure genius, as he ignores any hospital letters,allergy to medication repeatedly prescribed anti biotics that I have stated time and time again but he ignores.

    I also had what he said was a form of Celulitis running down my poorly leg,anti biotics given but once again I am allergic so didn't take them,basically I know what I can & can't take after all this is my body and nobody knows it better than me.

    The Cellulitis turned out to be  Surface Thromosis,diagnosed by the Hospital I was under with a scan.

    Anyway,back to these Nitrazepam.

    I requested my usual monthly prescription but there was no sign of Nitrazepam and as the GP was away a Locum stood in giving me just 14 tablets which was not enough as I was going away for 3 weeks on holiday.

    I called the surgery,spoke to the receptionist and she said she would have a word with the GP.

    I was then given another script for a month so all was good and I was responsible enough to use as always 1 per night.(I am not stupid).

    Holiday came and went,time to get more meds,prescription put in but no Nitrazepam again.

    I was furious and went into the surgery to find out what is happening as I have never had this problem before.

    I was told by a receptionist that Doc wanted to see me about the Nitrazepam,so I made and appointment for yesterday evening 30th August 2017 at 5.30 pm.

    He told me he would not prescribe any more Nitrazepam to me as I am an addict and he is a doctor who signs for these benzodiazipines,basically refused point blank to to give me anything.

    I argued about the letter I had written,the waiver that it is all my own responsibily but he said NO,I will not give them to you.

    I was also told to find another doctor,which I said I would to which he said your an "Addict" again!

    I insisted he give me my prescription to tide me over till I found another GP which he did,but I am fuming that this GP who has a Duty of care to his patients shows no compassion,he's indifferent and downright stupid.

    Now I have to find yet another GP who will prescribe ALL of my medication without arguing the toss all over again.

    I am reporting him to NHS England for putting me in an intolerable position and having to find yet another GP who will accept new patients on their books.

    All this because he doesn't want to give me my lifeline.

    Out of all of these medicines,Nitrazepam is the most important to me.They can keep all of the others because as long as I have my sleep I can cope with life and what it throws at me,without sleep I may just as well be dead.

    I managed to get a script before I left for Nitrazepam but not without a fight & the pharmacist tells me that being weaned off these will be impossible after all these years anyway.

    Of course I haven't slept even though I had my sleeper,through the trauma this so called GP has put me through but on reflection,I believe the Locum who stood in for him for a month has a little bit to do with the problem & has reported him for prescribing these willy nilly to me without question..I think this Old GP is ready to retire and clearing his books of "Problem Patients".

    • Posted

      I have been on Nitrazepam for over 40 years and my GPS are acting exactly as yours are. They also called me a DRUG ADDICT and told me to curb my DRUG ADDICT WAYS. I will probably be taking further actions against them for this.
  • Posted

    Oh, Lordy.

    This is because GPs are being encouraged to get their patients off benzos.

    Mind you, it was GPs who got everyone addicted in the first place.

    If your mother cannot persuade her GP to reconsider, somebody needs to tell the GP to look in the BNF and find out how to safely taper patients off benzos, using the Ashton Manual. I would like to bet that the GP has never heard of it.

    The other option is to change GPs.

    I wish you luck from the bottom of my heart. This is a very bad situation.

  • Posted

    How are things going with your mother and the nitrazepam debacle?

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