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Sussex turns to sleeping pills
Thousands of people across Sussex are turning to sleeping pills to help them get a good night's sleep.
Experts believe worries about job security and their financial future are making it harder for many people to drop off.
The number of prescriptions issued by the county's GPs has gone up by 6% in three years.
Just over 620,150 prescriptions were written for people in Sussex in 2011 compared to 582,000 in 2008.
Brighton and Hove had the highest rise, increasing from 147,785 to 171,115.
Prescribing the drugs is now costing the county's NHS almost £2 million a year.
Insomnia is seen as a significant problem which now affects more than one in three adults.
A spokesman for NHS Sussex said: “Efforts continue across Sussex to reduce sleeping pill prescribing, since it is recognised that these are generally not suitable for use beyond a few days.
“One item can mean one tablet or 500 tablets. Recent practice has been to issue prescriptions of short duration in order to minimise harm and to help long term users to reduce their use.
"Alternative options are explored initially and efforts are made to ensure that the underlying conditions causing anxiety or insomnia are treated first “Drugs will be prescribed if symptoms of anxiety or insomnia are severe, acute or disabling.
“Patients will be given advice on self management of anxiety, relaxation techniques, to avoid caffeine, alcohol and advice on good sleeping practice.”
Co-op Pharmacy NHS business director Mandeep Mudhar said: “Some sleeping drugs are only recommended for short term use because they can lead to psychological dependency and lose their effectiveness over time.
“We would urge people who are suffering with insomnia or their use of sleeping pills to discuss their concerns with a pharmacist or their doctor.”