Senior politicians have called for an inquiry into prescription drugs and the crippling impact dependence and withdrawal can have.
It would be the first major study north of the border into an issue that campaigners say has been ignored for far too long.
They have fought for years for recognition of the individuals who have suffered pain, mental ill health, suicidal thoughts and disability because of drugs commonly dispensed by GPs and the NHS.
A petition containing an “unprecedented” 200 submissions from about 120 people around the world was put before the Scottish Parliament’s petition’s committee.
And after some sober discussion, the committee voted to consult the British Medical Association and seek the views of Scottish GPs on the issue.
Among those who spoke was Michelle Ballantyne, a former nurse and now Conservative MSP for South Scotland, who said anyone who said there was not a problem was “in denial”.
The key concerns centre on drugs including anti-depresents, painkillers and benzodiazepines, which are often used as painkillers and can be used in care homes and similar facilities.
Marion Brown has been campaigning for action for many years for recognition of the impact prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal can have and for support to be afforded to those afflicted.
With a fourth airing at Holyrood’s petitions committee – and accompanied with a pledge that further investigations will be carried out – she has hopes the issue is finally being taken seriously.
The psychotherapist, from Helensburgh, said: “This is a huge social disaster.
“It is changing lives and for some people it is the beginning of the end for their lives.
“There is no help for some of the people affected. They have been so deeply harmed already.
“Throughout this process I have spoken to so many people about the impact of prescription medication.
“They have been left in pain, disabled and bedridden.”
Mrs Brown said the response to the petition had been “unprecedented”, with submissions from as far afield as the Netherlands, the US and Australia.
She said: “Some have been anonymous but others have agreed to be named and one and all the stories are amazing and distressing.
“In each submission the individual’s voice comes through strongly.”
She added: “I think this is a really important issue.
“For many years people have been given prescription drugs that have harmed them and they have not been believed. That must change.”
Johann Lamont, the convener of Scottish Parliament’s petition’s committee, said it was “potentially the greatest number of submissions” she had seen since becoming involved with the committee.
“The vast majority of these submissions are from people sharing personal stories with us about their experiences of taking certain medications and the range of symptoms they have subsequently experienced,” she said.
“These include stories about ongoing acute symptoms and the impact of these symptoms.
“We will use all of the submissions we have received when we go about the job of considering the policy action called for in the petition, which asks for the Scottish Government to take action appropriately to recognise and support individuals affected and harmed by prescribed drug dependence withdrawal.”
Angus South MSP Graeme Day added: “I’m particularly interested in getting the views of GPs in Scotland.
“They’re prescribing these drugs and they can see any negative impacts that are happening over the longer term.
“I think it’s really important to understand what it is they are experiencing in their practices up and down Scotland.”