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Nightmare addiction cost
Barry 10 years of his life

The Oldham Chronicle
May 14, 1998

Barry Haslam has compiled
a study to help fight for the
rights of tranquilliser addicts

Barry Haslam lost a decade of his life because of a destructive addiction to tranquillisers. For 10 dark years, he was prescribed a benzodiazepine tranquilliser that is now considered so harmful it is not given to new patients for longer than two weeks.

But Barry, who was left brain-damaged by the addiction, is now fighting back to ensure nobody has to go through the same experience again.

The father of two, with the help of fellow addicts, has compiled a dossier about benzodiazepines, which his local MP Phil Woolas has handed over to a Commons Select Committee on Health.

And Barry now hopes it will spur the Government into action to outlaw the tranquillisers, which kill more people each year than heroin, ecstasy and cocaine combined.

The 54-year-old, said: "It would be brilliant if we finally got the full recognition about what these drugs have done to us. And maybe then the medical profession will put their hands up and admit the part they have played in ruining so many lives."

Barry was first prescribed benzodiazepines after suffering a nervous breakdown – but this only turned out to be the start of his 10-year-long nightmare.

During his addiction, he suffered violent mood swings and memory loss so severe that he does not even remember his children growing up.

His dossier of facts and figures, which took several months to compile, is taken from dozens of medical studies about tranquillisers.


In the report, he proclaims: "Someone has to stand up and be counted for what amounts to the biggest medical scandal and denial of natural justice this century. It is caused by the medical profession and the respective drug manufacturers of benzodiazepines, due to apathy of the former and greed of the latter."

Mr Woolas, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, has now passed Barry's paper to David Hinchcliffe, chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Health.

The dossier will form part of the evidence to decide whether they will hold a full inquiry into the effects of tranquillisers.

Mr Woolas said: "Barry Haslam and his group were lobbying anyone and everyone, but I felt he needed to redirect the facts of his case to a specific group. "It is hoped their action will now help towards gaining a better understanding of the damaging medical effects of long-term addiction."

And Barry is determined that the voices of the thousands of addicts will be heard.

"The full story behind this would blow your mind," he said. "It is bigger than heroin or cocaine addiction because we have been made involuntary addicts by doctors. But one thing is for sure – the addicts will not go away because there are still a lot of them out there who are still suffering."

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