Abstract Benzodiazepines use by illicit drug users, particularly opiate users, crack users and people in methadone maintenance treatment is prevalent now forming the largest group of users and is a major problem to some of these users. Methadone maintenance patients using non-prescribed benzodiazepines have been reported to be on higher methadone doses, as well as exhibiting more HIV/HCV risk-taking behaviour, greater poly-drug use, higher levels of psychopathology and social dysfunction but it is unknown whether this is cause or effect.
Benzodiazepines are taken for a variety of reasons including their own effects of intoxication, enhancing a primary drug and to counter early withdrawal symptoms from other drugs.
But there are problems as there is little research on benzodiazepine use in drug users and most of the relevant research has taken place on psychiatric patients. Much of current practice based on opinion rather than evidence and there is little agreement on how they are best used so tend to be seen as the 'bad guys' and not use.
In this interactive session we will look at the use and non-use of benzodiazepines by people who use drugs and the professionals who work with them, using our own collective experience, take a fresh look at benzodiazepines and discuss some of the current evidence and what is our experience with patients
Biography Dr Chris Ford has been a GP in North West London for over 23 years and has special interests in working with people who use drug and/or alcohol, HIV and hepatitis and sexual health.
She is one of the founders of Substance Misuse Management in General Practice (SMMGP) and is currently Clinical Director for SMMGP. She is a member and former chair of the RCGP Sex, Drugs and HIV Task Group. She is a member of the executive committee to the RCGP Certificate Programme for Substance Misuse and CPD lead for the programme. She is a board member and former chair of the Alliance, a board member of the National Users Network and Release. She is a founder member of the UK Harm Reduction Alliance (UKHRA) and a patron of FDAP.
She has published widely about the care of people who use drugs in general practice and is the lead author on a number of guidance documents developed for primary care on the use of buprenorphine, working with cocaine and crack users, use of methadone and the 'Guidance for prevention, testing, treatment and management of Hepatitis C in Primary Care'.