Drugs such as benzodiazepines (tranquillisers) and opiate-based painkillers (such as morphine and codeine) can have serious side-effects, as well as being habit-forming. There has been a huge rise in addiction to these legal drugs, with the figure currently estimated to be seven times the number of heroin addicts.
These drugs are often prescribed to treat depression, anxiety or insomnia, but patients often take them for too long, without being monitored by their doctor, leading to addiction. However, there are little support systems in place for those addicted to legal drugs, leaving very few places for addicts to turn to.
In 2008 there were 15.96 million prescriptions written for opiates, which are used to treat pain, an increase of 55% over the last five years.