The problem of over-medication

STOMP stands for stopping the over-medication of people with a learning disability, autism or both. Specifically, the campaign is about the use of psychotropic medication. 

People with a learning disability, autism or both are more likely to be given psychotropic medications than other people. These medications affect how the brain works. They include medications for psychosis, depression, anxiety, sleep problems or epilepsy. Sometimes they are given to people because their behaviour is seen as challenging. The evidence that psychotropic medication can help with challenging behaviour is poor. Psychotropic medication can cause side effects such as:

  • Significant weight gain.
  • Feeling tired or ‘drugged up’.
  • Severe constipation or bowel obstruction.
  • Serious problems with physical health, including organ failure.

Research by the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR Programme) and others has shown that the inappropriate use of psychotropic medications can be a significant contributory factor, or the cause, of a person’s death. Use of psychotropic medication can be especially concerning if people take them for too long, take too high a dose or take them without good reason. Psychotropic medications are helpful for some people at some times. For many other people and in many circumstances, there are different ways of helping so that the person needs less medication or none at all.

 

The solution: you’re part of it!

Advocacy can play a critical role in ensuring that people’s views about their medication are heard, that their rights are upheld and they are supported to make their own choices and enjoy a good life. This guide explains how you can make a difference.

 

More about the STOMP campaign

Visit england.nhs.uk/stomp for helpful resources including videos, case studies, pledges for both healthcare and social care providers and an Easy Read overview leaflet.