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Everything you need to know about Addicted to Painkillers: Britain's Opioid Crisis

The BBC's long-running Horizon programme turns its attention to prescription drug addiction

Published: Thursday, 16th January 2020 at 3:45 pm

Opioid addiction has become a huge problem in the United States, but signs suggest the UK could be facing a crisis of our own in the near future.


The BBC's Horizon series is taking a look at the issue, interviewing patients and informing the public on proper use of the drug.

Here's everything you need to know about Addicted to Painkillers: Britain's Opioid Crisis...

What time is Addicted to Painkillers: Britain's Opioid Crisis on TV?

Addicted to Painkillers? Britain's Opioid Crisis will air on BBC2 on Thursday 16th January 2020 at 9pm.

What is Addicted to Painkillers: Britain's Opioid Crisis about?

In America, it's an epidemic. Now new evidence from Public Health England raises concern about the UK's use of prescription opioids. Dr Michael Mosley investigates this growing problem, meeting patients struggling with addiction and GPs fighting a constant battle to help those suffering from chronic pain.

He also uncovers worrying evidence of people abusing over-the-counter opioids and discovers how easy it is to buy strong opioids online. Michael also considers why people are consuming twice the amount of opioids as 20 years ago, and asks the crucial question - do they actually work?

Who presents Addicted to Painkillers: Britain's Opioid Crisis?

The One Show regular Michael Mosley helms the documentary. As well as The One Show, the qualified doctor has presented other health-focused documentaries such as Eat, Fast & Live Longer (which popularised the 5:2 diet) and The Genius of Invention.

Is there a review?

Radio Times critic David Butcher had this to say about the new documentary:

"There’s a telling scene in this Michael Mosley documentary when an expert highlights the moment when the opioid painkiller epidemic took off. In America they’ve traced the wave of overprescribing back to the 1980s and one letter published in a medical journal, which was then repeatedly quoted – by other researchers and drugs companies – as evidence that opioid painkillers were not addictive.


But they are, of course, and thousands of patients have died as a consequence. Here in the UK, the situation is less severe but still, five million of us are prescribed opioids every year, and half a million have been on them for three years or more. This despite the fact they are intended to treat acute pain and rarely work with chronic pain (a different condition, with different biology, an expert explains). It’s a troubling but fascinating programme."


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