People are risking their health by buying prescription tranquilisers on the black market, a Belfast GP has warned.
Dr George O'Neill said in his 30 years working in the north and west of the city, addictions to drugs such as Diazepam have always been a problem.
"You can buy them almost freely throughout Belfast," he said.
Pharmacist Terry Maguire said the drugs most commonly stolen in robberies of chemists were Benzodiazepines.
He added: "Warfarin sometimes masquerades as Diazepam 10mg - for someone who doesn't need Warfarin, it could be fatal as you could bleed to death.
"My plea is to anyone who feels they want these medicines, do not buy them from illegal sources, it's much too dangerous."
Drugs programme manager Benny Lynch of the Falls Community Council said the addiction problem is "massive," with "as many people on these tablets now as there were during the Troubles".
He said he knew of one group of women in their 40s who "were buying blue tablets on the street with no identification or markings on them - they assumed it was Diazepam 10mg but they could have been given anything".
"No-one knows for sure what's in the tablets unless they're clinically tested," he added.
The eastern board's senior prescribing advisor, Dr Brenda Bradley, said "significantly higher rates" of drugs were prescribed in certain areas, but that levels were decreasing in recent years.
"This can be a difficult group of patients. What we don't want are those patients disappearing and buying them on the black market.
"We want an environment where they can be referred on to more specialised practitioners."
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