Your LIFE: OUR SECRET TO Beating Addiction; HEALTH CELEBS ARE IN AND OUT OF REHAB. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A ROCK STAR OR TAKE ILLEGAL DRUGS TO GET HOOKED

The Mirror (London, England), September 4, 2007 | Go to article overview

Your LIFE: OUR SECRET TO Beating Addiction; HEALTH CELEBS ARE IN AND OUT OF REHAB. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A ROCK STAR OR TAKE ILLEGAL DRUGS TO GET HOOKED


Byline: BY JUDY YORKE

WHY WE GET HOOKED ON DRUGS

DOCTOR Natasha Bijlani, a consultant at the rehab clinic The Priory Hospital, Roehampton, West London says:

"SUBSTANCE addiction can affect all aspects of your life - relationships, work and health. Your body becomes tolerant to it so you need ever more to reach a level of satisfaction.

"Sometimes doctors start these problems. There are long waiting lists for counselling so it's easy for doctors to give a patient Valium without explaining the addictive qualities.

"The other problem is that people want to get better quickly, and complain if it doesn't happen fast enough. If you want to come of f something, it's difficult on your own.

"If you feel you're becoming addicted and your doctor is just giving you repeat prescriptions, discuss the problem, or change GP. Try to get psychological help - not just for your addiction, but also for the reason you started taking the drug. Cognitive behavioural therapy, a counselling technique, helps change your thoughts and behaviour."

VALIUM

DOCTORS prescribe Valium (diazepam) for anxiety disorders. A member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs, it affects brain chemicals that cause anxiety. It is recommended for short-term use only as people can become physically and psychologically dependent on it.

Mum-of-three Glynis Scrase, 52, lives in Bristo

'I WAS a 23-year-old single mum when I went to the GP because I was feeling dizzy and tired. I found out later I had low blood pressure, but my doctor gave me Valium. I didn't question it - I believed he knew best.

The pills didn't make me feel better and within six months I was having terrible panic attacks. The doctor just upped the dose.

I became a nervous wreck - I jumped when the phone rang. I was agoraphobic for five years and my son missed school because I couldn't take him. Social services even threatened to take him away.

Three times I tried to come off them, but I always felt worse. By 1991 I'd cut down but I was still struggling so I finally asked for help. I went into a psychiatric unit for four months and was weaned off. When I came out I found it hard. I'd ring my support group, Battle Against Tranquillisers, and say, 'I've got to make dinner for my kids, I don't know how'.

It was five years before I felt normal again. I remember sitting in the garden and being struck by how green the grass was. I'd been numb for so long.'

GLYNIS'S ADVICE

FIND a local support group and speak to people who have been through the same thing. Don't do it alone.

ANTIDEPRESSANTS

THESE are prescribed for moderate to severe depression, as well as obsessive compulsive disorders and severe panic attacks. Seroxat works by raising the serotonin levels (a feelgood hormone) in the brain. Twenty six million prescriptions for antidepressants are written each year in England alone.

VANIA Coulthard, 35, a psychology student, lives with her partner in Exeter, Devon

'MY fiance died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage 10 years ago - we'd planned the rest of our lives together and suddenly he'd gone and I was alone. I asked my doctor to help me get some counselling but there was none available - so he gave me Seroxat, an antidepressant, instead.

I've always been calm but three months later I became aggressive. I even attempted suicide several times.

One day I forgot to take the pills and noticed a buzzing in my head, like I was being poked with a cattle prod. I took a tablet and it disappeared. I was terrified - I knew I was addicted.

A few years ago I saw a Panorama programme about the side effects of Seroxat. My mum also pulled me aside and said my personality had changed for the worse. I decided to come off them and went cold turkey.

I had eight to 12 weeks of sweating and shaking. The

mental withdrawal was awful - the best way I can describe it is you feel like you move your head and your brain follows a couple of minutes later. …

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