A LEADING psychiatrist has claimed resort residents are being turned into “legalised junkies” through over-prescribing anti-depressants.
Blackpool was dubbed ‘Britain’s anti-depressant capital’ with 133,829 prescriptions for the drugs being given out per 100,000 people.
According to the figures, published by The Guardian at the weekend, Blackpool is one of only three areas with more than 120,000 anti-depressant prescriptions per 100,000 people given out between 2009 and 2010.
NHS Blackpool bosses view the figures as misrepresentative and say factors such as the greater number of elderly patients, who need more medication, should be taken into account to present the correct picture.
However, there is widespread concern about the number of anti-depressants being prescribed.
Psychotherapist Steve Pope, of Steve Pope Associates in Bispham, said: “I’m totally against anti-depressants.
“There are a huge number of people who take them here, firstly because they think Blackpool will be a land of milk and honey, and it’s not.”
Mr Pope claimed: “People who go to their GP in Blackpool are given the drugs because there is simply no way they can be seen by a counsellor in time.
“We are slowly turning residents into legalised junkies because there is up to a 12 month waiting list for counselling – which is what they really need.”
According to The Guardian statistics – which took the ‘raw’ number of prescriptions and linked them to population estimates – there was a 10.1 per cent increase in antidepressant prescriptions in Blackpool from 2008-2009.
Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, said the figures were concerning.
He said: “Depression can be linked to deprivation, particularly alcohol and drug issues and all of those things are, sadly, where Blackpool scores quite highly.
“These are concerning statistics. NHS Blackpool is keen to do work on drugs, alcohol and mental health issues.
“Maybe it is an area where the Primary Care Trust could look with its doctors at the levels of prescriptions and whether there are ways of offering other support which could reduce the amount of prescriptions being given.”