Patients prescribed powerful painkillers should be monitored by hospital units rather than GPs, experts said yesterday.
Doctors are doling out opioids such as tramadol and oxycodone in huge numbers, driving an escalating crisis in addiction to prescription drugs.
Now experts have called for strict rules that mean anyone given drugs higher than a certain dose would be referred to specialist pain units.
The team, led by academics at University College London, said this would help ensure they are not left on the drugs for months without review.
Study leader Dr Luke Mordecai, whose work was published in the British Journal of General Practice, said anyone given a drug with an equivalent strength of 120mg of morphine a day should be referred.
He added: 'They need to be monitored in specialist care as happens with other conditions.