As of the 14th June Z class drugs, one of the few even vaguely effective drugs for insomnia, are now controlled substances. GPs all across the UK are refusing to renew prescriptions for them, and if you’re caught importing them into the UK, you could get a jail sentence.
It is not just Big Pharma that weeps.
Apparently, people are abusing them. Apparently, people are getting addicted to them.
Sound familiar? Yes, this is what people do with prescription drugs. Some people. It also described what people do, and what can happen to them, when they take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Remember these same things being said in the 90s and early 00s about the SSRIs?
So, why are the Z drugs being hit but GPs are free to refill endless repeat prescriptions for SSRIs?
At least with anti-depressants there are a shit load of different ones that someone could try if their preferred one was to become a controlled substance. If you have insomnia your choices are extremely limited. Even more so now.
Of course, depression is a serious medical illness. Insomnia is trivial. “It last a month, at most, you don’t need anything. It’ll go away by itself. There is nothing wrong with you”.
As someone who doesn’t believe in the biomedical model of depression, everything bar the last sentence could be levelled at depression.
Clinicians really just don’t get it. Yes, insomnia can be a secondary symptom due to psychological or physical illness. But it can also be your only, and prime, symptom, that causes misery, as well as cognitive and social problems. It can give you headaches, make you forgetful, make you loose concentration, and crash your car, never mind the long term physical effects, such as diabetes and immune disorders, associated with chronic insomnia.
It really is about time that clinicians took insomniacs seriously. We do exist. We’ve tried all your trivial and patronising advise. We did that 10 years ago before we ever decided to trouble you about it. When we do eventually go to see GPs about it we are desperate. We don’t need to be send away with a flea in our ear to try reading a book before bed or avoiding caffeine. We’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.
So, can we have a little less money spent on changing one molecule on the latest blockbuster SSRI so that Big Pharma can extend the patent and have a little more money spent on a drug for chronic insomnia?