The Opioid Timebomb

Addiction to online opioids is a growing risk in the UK, say experts

Wednesday 27 February 2019, 5.30pm-7.45pm, Central London

‘The Internet has transformed the patterns of peoples’ drug use,’ according to consultant psychiatrist Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Ordering online ‘sanitises’ the buying of potentially harmful drugs, he says.

In the US, addiction related to prescribed opioids has caused some 218,000 deaths to date. Now experts say the UK is witnessing an emerging health crisis with opioid addiction, with many of these drugs ten to 100 times more potent than heroin. Prescriptions for opioid painkillers have doubled in a decade, despite evidence they are ineffective for chronic pain.

It’s now known that it takes just three days for patients prescribed opioid painkillers to become addicted. The symptoms of withdrawal can be appalling with the result that, as doctors try to limit prescriptions, addicts are increasingly obtaining opioids illicitly, often via online sources which are poorly regulated.

This information evening is being hosted by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, where Dr Bowden-Jones has set up the Addiction to Online Medicine (Atom) service in London, a free clinic for people dealing with the consequences of addiction to online meds.

The event will delve into the issues with speakers including:

Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, consultant psychiatrist and chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs; founder of the Addiction to Online Medicine service in London

Dr Cathy Stannard, Consultant in Complex Pain and Pain Transformation Programme Clinical Lead at NHS Gloucestershire CCG. Dr Stannard is an expert in opioid prescribing and has researched the efficacy of opioids on chronic and acute pain.

Lynda Scammell, Senior Policy Manager at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, who will talk about the issues of online pharmacies selling prescription drugs illicitly and the loopholes which enable this.


Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust,
1st Floor, 350 Euston Road, Regent’s Place, London, NW1 3AX.
Drinks and light refreshments will be provided.

5.30 pm; presentations start at 6 pm: the event will end promptly at 7.45 pm, as the room is needed for staff zumba!

£10 for members, £15 for non-members; to cover administration and other costs.

13 February 2019
To book your ticket/s, please contact the Guild office