An end to the hell of sleeping pill addiction?

Getting a good night’s sleep after a long day is a well-deserved reward for most people.

But for those suffering with insomnia and anxiety, the very prospect of putting head to pillow is the beginning of their nightmare.

More people in North Kirklees were struggling to sleep and taking pills to cope than in most areas across the country last year.

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Health chiefs started a new scheme in response last January to support people taking highly-addictive sleeping pills and try to reduce their usage.

The Clarity Project began in six GP practices and has now been extended to all surgeries in the district.

After a one-year trial at a Cleckheaton practice, half of the people supported stopped taking the drugs and half now manage on a lower dose.

North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is leading the campaign, says around 100 patients are expected to benefit from the increased support every year.

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Dr Khaled Naeem, CCG lead on medicines management, said: “Sleeping tablets like diazepam are meant for short-term use and are highly addictive. People get used to them very quickly and need higher doses to get the same effect and it becomes very difficult to come off them. The Clarity Project provides a structured withdrawal programme that takes more time than most GP practices are able to give.”

The project works by giving addicted patients time with a specialist substance misuse adviser, who supports them with information about the effects of the tablets and how best to reduce or stop their use.

The drugs, used as a reprieve for thousands of people suffering from insomnia and anxiety, range from prescribed benzodiazepines to zopiclone, zolpidem and zaleplon.

People are also offered help with ways of managing anxiety and insomnia without using drugs, including natural relaxation techniques, massage, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy.

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Support sessions will be held at health centres in Dewsbury, Ravensthorpe, Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike as part of the project. It is funded by Kirklees Council and the North Kirklees and Greater Huddersfield CCGs.

The scheme will be extended to include drug and alcohol services in October.