If you tuned in to the BBC news on Friday evening you may have noticed the item about opioid dependency featuring a campaign we created for Sunderland CCG. ‘Painkillers Don’t Exist’ launched in the North East at the end of last year, and aimed to open up the conversation about high-dose, long-term painkiller use.

Motivated by Jazmine Allen, a student from University of Leeds, who had been dependent on pain medication from a very young age (due to an operation) we all felt for her and her experiences, which ranged from childhood memory loss, being a ‘zombie’ through to pleading with doctors for another way. Jazmine shared her story live on BBC Radio 5 Live, as well as featuring in the BBC news report.

As well as overcoming many challenges involving opioid addiction, Jazmine was referred to us by the wonderful Forward Leeds (who manage the alcohol and drug addiction service here), as a potential member of our team.

A communications student, Jazmine had both first hand experience and the necessary skills when Sunderland CCG put out a commission for a painkiller addiction campaign.

Serendipitously charged, we hired Jazmine and took to the North East to start this important campaign. Here are some of the reasons why:

It’s estimated that 5.6 million adults in England take prescribed opioids (Source: Public Health England, 2019).

Medications such as codeine, morphine and tramadol are often prescribed as a ‘quick fix’ after an injury or operation. However, these can lead to addiction and even death if they are misused or taken for a prolonged period of time.

The North East is currently the highest opioid prescribing area in the country, with Sunderland in particular dubbed ‘the painkiller capital’ – where nearly 145,000 opioid prescriptions have been given out within the first six months of this year alone (Source: Openprescribing.net, 2019).

There is also a rise in opioid related deaths in the area which have been cited in recent studies.

Many people talked to us about the role of doctor and patient and how most people would never question what is being prescribed, it’s conditioned to take and do what we are told.

Since we started raising awareness of the issue, we have had more stories shared and have had interest from a TV production company who wants to shine a light on this issue in this coming year.

If you would like to know more about the campaign, visit:

Or watch this story from one of the people we spoke to:

If you want to talk to us more about any of this, give us a call: 0113 318 3051