The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse hopes to pin down the true scale and nature of the problem, and find ways to tackle it. Although the problem is largely unrecognised, experts believe thousands of people in the UK are affected.
MPs will take evidence from the drugs industry, healthworkers and the general public. They will examine the physical, social, psychological and economic damage abuse of drugs can cause, and whether there are sufficient sources of help and support available for people who are affected.
They will also specifically consider whether use of the internet is fuelling the problem. Dr Brian Iddon, chairman of the committee, said: “The misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines is a problem that has been affecting the UK for many years.
“We know that thousands of people’s lives have been affected by the misuse of drugs found in the home medicine cabinet or at the chemists. The inquiry we are launching today is an opportunity to gather the evidence necessary to begin addressing this problem and to give a voice to those currently suffering in silence.”
Martin Barnes, chief executive of the charity DrugScope, welcomed the investigation.
He said: “The issue of prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse has been highlighted this year with a number of high profile celebrity cases reported in the media.”