PICTURE the scene: You’ve got a back problem and the pain is excruciating.

You can’t function properly, work is hard and taking exercise is a nightmare.

Your GP prescribes you heavy painkillers to help.

What happens if the problem isn’t corrected and you continue to seek repeat prescriptions?

Dependency? Addiction? It appears to be a common story.

A free and easy approach to highly-addictive painkillers, known as opioids, was criticised last week by a Southend GP, after it was revealed one in seven adults in south Essex were taking them.

Worrying figures revealed more than 60,000 adults in Southend had been prescribed them, while one in six were prescribed anti-depressants.

Another 3 per cent of adults received gabepentinoids, used to treat epilepsy, nerve pain and anxiety, as well as another 3 per cent being prescribed Benzodiazepine for anxiety and insomnia.

Dr Krishna Chaturvedi insisted alternative treatments should be considered before drugs are dished out to patients.

But patients have raised concerns that medication is the easiest, and quickest, way doctors feel they can help patients - even if it does not have long-term benefits.

One 35-year-old Southend woman, who asked not to be named, raised concerns she had previously been prescribed drugs which are not necessarily suitable for her condition.

She also highlighted the long wait for therapy.

She said: “I also have been on many anti-depressants because I have depression, but the pills don’t work for everyone.

“My GP gave me a low dose anti-psychotic to help me sleep and I don’t even have psychosis.

“They shouldn’t prescribe drugs that aren’t licensed for that condition, even if it can be helpful.

“With regards to referrals to [an] appropriate organisation, I have had to wait 14 months for therapy that I need.

“People often see the GP first because there isn’t any other service available without a long waiting list and if you’re sitting there, suicidal or whatever, then they will dish out a prescription because they basically don’t know what else to do with you.

“There isn’t enough funding for mental health so people wait months or even more than a year for treatment whether that be for a community psychiatric nurse, a psychiatrist or for therapy.”

The patient added: “Even in-patient psychiatric services are bad because there are never enough beds, then people suffer further.”

“This is the state of the health service. But the government never do anything to fix it.”

A spokesman for Castle Point and Rochford and Southend clinical commissioning groups - which fund frontline healthcare - said increased awareness among the public, as well as clinicians, of treatments is needed so everyone is aware of alternative and supplementary treatments away from medicines, while it is vital patients are aware of the risks and benefits of medicines.

Dr Chaturvedi echoed those sentiments, adding that regular follow-up appointments are vital to ensure medication is not taken for too long, and is having the desired effect.

Abbey Riley, from Southend, responded to the Echo’s story adding: “Instead of just dishing out anti-depressants, like sweets, maybe GPs need more time with their patients referrals to appropriate organisations.

“I went to the doctors once because I couldn’t sleep, it was getting me down, they prescribed me anti-depressants.

“I didn’t even need them; it’s so easy for them to say you have depression when in actual fact it could well be something else something underlining.”