We want to understand and evaluate the lived experiences and motivations for non-medical use of benzodiazepines in the UK's young adult population.Monica Richards
03 May 2022
The student-led project aiming to shape national drug policy
A research project led by a King’s College London student is aiming to influence national policy on an emerging issue facing young people in the UK.
Monica Richards is project lead and head of research for the Benzo Research Project, a student-led initiative which seeks to understand and evaluate the experiences of young people who use benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines – or ‘benzos’ - are a class of depressant psychoactive drugs prescribed for use as anxiolytics, sleep aids and anticonvulsants. However, some 250,000 people are being prescribed the drug far beyond the recommended treatment period and an increasing number of drug-related deaths in the UK are being attributed to the misuse of benzos.
The aim of the project is to provide evidence for policy reform by gathering and analysing the experiences of those aged 18-25 who are using benzos recreationally.
Monica, a PPE student in the Department of Political Economy, said: “We want to understand and evaluate the lived experiences and motivations for non-medical use of benzodiazepines in the UK's young adult population.
“The research sector typically struggles to recruit participants of this age and on this topic, and so our platform seeks to meet that need. We hope that these testimonies will provide evidence for policy reforms, and to generate ideas as to how best to support young people.”
The team hope to collect dozens of testimonies from young people and use those to form the basis of a report.
Also on the project research team are King’s students Emily Jones and Joanna Bright, and Alexander Martin (Imperial College), with support from a team of students who work on social media output and outreach activities. Bianca De Santis, another King’s student, is helping to co-ordinate the nationwide campaign, aided by students from across the world.
The project is advised by a group of academics and has received funding from King’s College London’s Student Opportunity Fund and the University of Manchester. Additional technical and advocacy support has been provided by the organisations Volteface, Drugs and Me, Youth Rise, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
The project launched in August 2021 and the team plan to finalise and release a report and findings in September 2022.
King’s students in the social media team: Lamees Abuzenadah, Noor Kamaruzzaman, Veronica Orbecchi, Tegan Finch, Sahil Sonalkar.
King’s students in the outreach team: Bianca De Santis, Chiew Ng, Evelyne De Meester, Ray Jerram, Zara Nelson, Andrea Tonon.
You can find out more about the project here.