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The Bounty Hunters

by Gurli Bagnall,
Benzo Survivor,
New Zealand

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"To the betrayed who overcame
iatrogenic addiction with courage
and strength of spirit."

"And what is a bounty hunter, sir?"
"Why, young man, bounty hunters in our
industry, are general practitioners
who supply the specialists
with their raw materials."
"Raw materials, sir?"
"Patients, dear boy! Patients!"
"But sir, what if they're not sick?"
"Then, dear boy, they very soon will be!"

The Reason for "The Bounty Hunters"

In the early 90s, the media in New Zealand picked up on the UK debate about whether or not to ban Halcion. Our medical profession was outraged that such a thing should even be considered and the media was castigated for alarming people who took the drug. The establishment in NZ, came up with a brilliant measure which they obviously thought would please everyone. They banned the high dose tablet but kept the low dose, overlooking the fact that those affected, would simply double up on the number of tablets they took.

Amongst all this nonsense, one high profile professor of psychiatry suggested it would be a good idea for people to stop taking Halcion and he recommended the up-coming long weekend as the ideal time to do it. "The first night, you won't sleep at all," he said cheerfully. "The second night won't be much better, but by the third night, you'll be so zonked out that you'll sleep right through!" Presumably, to return to work as fresh as a daisy on the fourth day. Worse still, was the doctor to whom I read the riot act about eighteen months ago for expressing the opinion that benzo addiction was in the same category as addiction to shopping.

It is frightening that such ignorant people are first, legally entitled to prescribe dangerous and toxic substances and second, having caused the damage, are unable to differentiate between a psychiatric disorder, and behaviour symptomatic of brain damage.

The Birth of "The Bounty Hunters"

It took two years to write "The Hit Mob", an account of my dealings with the ACC (The Accident Compensation Corporation), but I was not able to find a publisher. It is, of course, a controversial subject and one that sounds bizarre to people who have never experienced anything like it. But I also believe I was too close to the trauma at the time of writing. I needed to be able to step back and look at the picture objectively. When I got to that stage, I decided to write a novel, a thriller if you like, based on the facts of benzodiazepines. I felt it might have more general appeal in that form and still get the message across.

Californian based, London Publishing, specialises in producing electronic books and they accepted "The Bounty Hunters" for publication.


"Brilliantly written and cleverly conceived. A great boost for those of us who are out there at the coal face dealing with prescribed drug addiction. The truth will not remain obscured." - John Hutchinson, Alcohol and Drug Counsellor, Hamilton, NZ.

Gurli Bagnall April, 2001

Ordering Details · Gurli's Story · Gurli's Reply to the BMJ · Gurli's Cartoon Page

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