Valium addict found, charged



DOCTOR Ranjith Senanayake breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when he was told police had captured the patient who allegedly tried to choke him in his surgery on Wednesday.

Bundaberg police charged a 50-year-old man with assault after he was found in East Bundaberg.

The man was granted watch-house bail and given a notice to appear in Bundaberg Magistrates Court on June 13.

"It's nice to know he has been caught," Dr Senanayake said.

"There are people who really do need (valium) and he should have been carrying a letter or something from another doctor if he really needed it."

The NewsMail reported yesterday that the patient allegedly grabbed Dr Senanayake by his tie and tried to choke him when he refused to prescribe the man valium.

The patient told him he was an alcoholic and took six valium tablets a day.

Wednesday's attack shocked Bundaberg doctor Denise Powell, who said the assault was an indicator of a "significant benzodiazepine problem in Bundaberg".

"Benzodiazepine addiction is a problem and as GPs we feel we have to help people deal with it and I believe (the doctor) was behaving appropriately,'' Dr Powell said.

"Personal safety is a concern for doctors and we are all aware these events can occur in accident and emergency wards, but most GPs can tell a story or two about patients being demanding."

Bundaberg Base Hospital Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATODS) spokesman Dr Kees Nydam said benzodiazepine addiction was a major problem.

"For a start, there are a lot of similarities between alcoholism and benzodiazepine addiction," Dr Nydam said.

"It's reasonable to regard benzodiazepine as alcohol in a pill, which is why it is used to help detox alcoholics.

"And when statistics show that about 8% of the population are either alcohol or benzodiazepine dependent at some time in their life, it's not hard to work out how much of a problem it is."



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