The NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are aiming to raise awareness of the impact which the long-term use of drugs such as morphine, fentanyl and high dose codeine can have - and are encouraging people to ask for help to reduce their need. There is little evidence that opioids are helpful in long-term pain management, with the risk of harm increasing significantly if a patient is taking more than 120mg morphine or its equivalent per day.
Dr David Egan, Prescribing Lead and Clinical Executive member, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, said: “We encourage anyone who is taking these strong painkillers to seek advice from their GP to discuss reducing their dose safely. Many GP practices are pro-actively contacting patients asking them to attend a medicine review.
“It is important to reduce opioid use under medical supervision. If you suddenly stop taking them it can be dangerous to your health, so please don’t decide to go 'cold turkey' – speak with your GP first.
“You may well find that gradually stopping the medication actually helps your condition, and that you are in less pain without the opioids. You may also feel more alert. In addition, your GP or pain specialist can also suggest other things which could help, such as mindfulness, meditation and exercises such as Thai chi and yoga."