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Gerald Sables' Story

The effect upon my life has been devastating

I watched "The Tranquilliser Trap" on benzodiazepines with interest. I believe I am one of the longest-suffering addicts of lorazepam. I started taking them in 1974 following a car accident and finished taking them in 2000 (26 years). I was 18 when I was first prescribed them and the effect upon my life has been devastating. Like others I thought I was going out of my mind – a fact my doctor was only too willing to agree with. At one point I was prescribed 10mg a day and even as late as 1980 I was told to take more when I felt anxious.

I tried various methods to end my addiction including my doctor making me go through cold turkey which nearly killed me. When this failed I was told that it had nothing to do with the tablets and that I had a personality disorder. I eventually succeeded employing a method used by MIND in Sheffield, which I believe to be by far the best method. I noticed a lady in the programme who was cutting the tablets down into small pieces. This is OK but eventually you can't cut them any smaller and withdrawal is very difficult. The best method and one that was not discussed, is to have the tablets ground into powders that can be made in ever decreasing doses. Some Chemists such as The Wicker Chemist in Sheffield and Boots can provide this service. My last dose was a powder that was 0.08mg.This method provides the best results with the minimum of withdrawal and I'm sure that the Wicker Chemist in Sheffield would be only too willing to advise anyone!

What I should also like to say is that there seems to be a lack of understanding as to the long term effects of taking these drugs. I feel that there is probably permanent physical damage. There is definitely long term psychological damage. I relate it to being mentally raped! If you were raped no one would expect that once it is over that you would then return to normal. I am 45 and I can't remember what it was like when I was 18. I can't remember a time when my life was not governed by fear. I may function in society but that does not mean I can lead a normal life. However, I find that the medical profession believes that now that I no longer take these drugs I am back to full fitness. All the support I received was from MIND and I had to actively seek that out. I was offered no support from anywhere and yet had I found myself in that situation because of my own efforts. If I had been a heroin addict etc, I would have had masses of help and support.

Although I missed the last ten minutes of the programme, I do not think that the court action over benzodiazepines was discussed. This was a national disgrace and cost the taxpayer millions due to the bungled way in which it was handled. I have had my health taken away from me, I do not have a career or children and no money could compensate me for that but it would have eased my situation in life. Also what about others – the family who suffer as much as addicts? What my mother went through was horrific and I am ashamed to say that when I was taking 10mg a day I even physically hurt her on a couple of occasions and I am the most non violent person you could meet. The pain of that incident will haunt me for ever. I will not go into all the effects Ativan had upon me for they are well documented but the effects of these drugs on millions worldwide are devastating and it is a situation which goes mainly undiscussed. A quick look around the web will show you that there is little dedicated to it.

Before I close I would just like to say that I always try to help other addicts where I can. I am always distressed at the stories I hear and especially those suffering terrible withdrawal for no good reason other than the ignorance of the medical profession. I recently entered into an argument with a famous TV doctor who wrote an article saying that unlike Tranquillisers Anti-Depressants were safe and had no significant side effects. I think he is wrong. He thinks I am. I said to him that I hoped for people's sake that twenty years down the line my situation and that of other benzodiazepine addicts would not be repeated. If I can be of any help or assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kindest Regards
Gerald Sables, UK


First Page of Autobiography

by Gerald Sables

Through the gap in the curtains the stars shone like laser beams tearing into my eyes, the intensity was so bright that I could not bear to look at them, even with my eyes closed, the brightness was too much for me to bear. All around me, all inside of me was pain, excruciating pain. I cried out to God for relief, "Please let me die, let me die now, please! please! please...!" No answer came, no rescuer appeared to take me away from this hell, every fibre of my body, every nerve cell was on fire as if a thousand demons were burning me with red hot pokers. Every second became an hour, no, more than that, more like a week. I could bear no more, all considerations of family responsibilities had left me, all I wanted to do was die. I had endured enough, now all I wanted was release from this terrible pain. I could form no thoughts in my mind, the only words that formed were "pain, pain." To try and alleviate the pain all over my body I kept crashing my head into the wall, over and over, perhaps if I could concentrate the pain in one place then I could bear it but it did not work. All I longed for now was death, I could take no more, I had endured enough, I had no fight left. This was the third day I had been like this, becoming steadily worse. Ever since I was taken off the high doses of medication I had been taking. The doctors said that the medication wasn't the cause, in their opinion I had a personality defect. All that did not matter to me now, all I begged for was release, release from the mental and physical pain, all I had left was pain, I had lost my job, my friends and my will to live. I knew I could not bear another moment of this agony and yet that moment had already passed and a new moment was here. Perhaps I could make it to the morning, I thought, perhaps then medical help would arrive, then "No!" flashed into my mind. The doctors had already said there was nothing to be done, that I just had a personality defect and there was too much of the night left, too much agony, "pain, pain" again invaded my thoughts and I begged God again, I was too low to be able to think of any other way out, of any possible release but death. Not only was I in pain, but all I was bringing was pain to those around me and especially to my mother who was by now at breaking point herself, but by now I did not have the strength to get out of bed, to find a way to end this misery, for if I could then I surely would have. I knew what hell was like for I was there with a thousand demons tormenting me, burning me, torturing me. What had become of that bright young boy who was so full of fun? How had his life turned the pages and reached this terrifying chapter? Would I find a way out and if so how?


by Gerald Sables

"Look!" she said. "What a beautiful evening, the sun is out and it's so warm."

But all I could see was a dark sky, dark and cold. Could see the mother of the new-born child. So proud, so full of hope for the future, for all her son would achieve, so full of promise.

I see the man, with all his hopes dashed, his hopes and dreams unfulfilled, his potential never realised, like a gun never fired, like a song never heard. I hear a scream in the night, "Mummy, the big bad bear is after me!" "Don't worry", she says, as she wraps her arms around him and his worries and fears slowly dissolve into the night. But men don't cry and the mother's arms can no longer take away the fear, for the fear and the terror are real. Oh! how he wants those arms and for his troubles to disappear into the night.

I see a man broken like a butterfly on a wheel, I see the dark, I see the storm, I see the dark, I feel the cold, I feel the loneliness, despair and desperation, I see the child that has become the man, I see me, I see the blue powder and cannot tell where the distinction is between the Man and the Tablet, I see Lorazepam. "I am Lorazepam!"

Gerald Sables, UK

Withdrawal Cartoon
by Rosy, Gerald's Partner

People's Stories

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