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November 23, 1998
Newsquest (Media Group) Ltd

It is almost one year since Jim first plucked up the courage to walk into the MIND Drop-In Centre in Gravesend. But it was a step which ultimately saved his life.

Sixteen years ago, Jim had a nervous breakdown as a result of the collapse of his very successful business.

The stress of trying to cope with the situation was too much for Jim and he turned to drink and then to prescribed drugs.

In 1987 Jim, by now an alcoholic, was admitted to Joyce Green Hospital in Dartford where he underwent detoxification.

Luckily, the treatment was successful and Jim has not had an alcoholic drink since. But he still had another hurdle to overcome - his addiction to tranquillisers.

Over the next few years Jim was in and out of hospital several times while trying to free himself of his addiction, but all attempts failed. Eventually, he couldn't leave his house. He stayed at home, while his wife Sue, went out to work.

He said: "I lost many years of my life just sitting in my chair doing nothing. Worst of all, I missed out on seeing my children grow up."

Feeling desperately alone and frightened, Jim eventually found the courage to make his way to the MIND Drop-In Centre.

He said: "I sat there scared and shaking when a kind volunteer brought me a cup of tea.

"As she listened to my problems, my fears began to subside. She encouraged me to look for answers within myself and assured me that there really were people out there who cared."

At home Jim was fortunate enough to have the support of his wife and family who encouraged him to return to the Drop-In and soon Jim became a regular member.

He said: "I never felt compelled to go to the Drop-In but, every time I did, I came out feeling better."

But he still had his addiction problem to face. Jim was determined to overcome his dependence on benzodiazepines and embarked on a very slow cutting down regime under the supervision of CITA (Council for Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction).

He said: "I'm not sure I could have done it without the help and encouragement of everyone at the MIND Drop-In."

MIND project worker Viniti Seabrooke explained the ethos at the Drop-In. She said: "We support members by giving them as much information as we can and we try to build their self-esteem with plenty of encouragement."

Jim is now a much happier person. He has not taken benzodiazepines since June this year and has started voluntary work at two of MIND's Drop-In Centres.

His ambition now is to complete a counselling course to enable him to help people with problems of tranquilliser addiction.

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