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'My 22-year battle to beat prescribed drug addiction'

Wakefield Express
November 18, 2011

by Sophie Morgan

DRUG-FREE: Janet Marshall and
grand-daughter Chloe

The love of her three-year-old grand-daughter Chloe helped Janet Marshall defeat an addiction to prescribed drugs that went on for two decades.

A woman who defeated a 22-year addiction to prescribed drugs is speaking out to get more people the help they need to break free of destructive medication. Janet Marshall, now 53, from Kettlethorpe, was prescribed oxazepam when she was 26 and suffering from panic attacks after childbirth. But the mother-of-five was unaware the form of now-controversial Benzodiazepines, dubbed Benzos, can be highly addictive and spent two decades battling drug addiction.

She said: "It has completely ruined my life, I'm always looking back thinking 'if only' - but I always thought I must need them because I was prescribed them for so long."

There are an estimated 1.5million people addicted to prescribed drugs.

Earl of Sandwich John Montagu has joined national anti-Benzo campaigns. Speaking in the House of Lords, he said: "People have been left in intolerable pain and, through no fault of their own, become victims of addiction to and withdrawal from prescribed drugs. Doctors and psychiatrists connive at over-prescription and are then, it seems, incapable of coping with its ill-effects."

Withdrawal symptoms from Benzos include muscle pain, vomiting, unusual behaviour, and seizures. Rapid withdrawal is said to be potentially fatal.

Mrs Marshall added: "I want to apologise for the way I've acted at times - it wasn't me, it was the drug. "Doctors don't have a clue how to deal with it and a proper detox programme needs to be set up. I want people to get together and help each other move forward."

Mrs Marshall has now been off the drugs for nearly five years. She said: "I have attempted suicide five times, but my grand-daughter Chloe has been my salvation. Every time I see her face it brings me back up, and my wonderful husband has always stuck by me."

Mrs Marshall was financially compensated in a settlement after a dispute with GPs at Chapelthorpe Medical Centre. A practice spokesperson said: "We would like to reassure patients we regularly review the medications we prescribe on a case-by-case basis to ensure they are appropriate and safe."

For advice see www.benzo.org.uk.

From: Doctors sued for creating 'Valium addicts', The Independent, December 29, 2011.

'Listening to those NHS detox people is the biggest mistake I ever made'

Janet Marshall, 53, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, won £25,000 in an out-of-court settlement from her GP after "losing" 28 years to prescribed benzodiazepines

"I was 26, I'd just had my fourth baby, and I had a panic attack. I called the GP because I thought I was dying, and was prescribed oxazepam, even though I was breast-feeding. I became hooked, taking 15 x 10mg tablets a day at one point.

My fifth child was born an addict; he suffered withdrawal symptoms, but by this time I couldn't cope without them. Sometimes my pharmacist would give me some to tide me over the weekend if I'd run out. Five years ago, I changed GP, and she said I had a problem and started cutting me down, but far too quickly. It was like the doctors were my drug dealers. I couldn't talk properly or stop shaking. It lasted for months, but I felt so much more alert and got my senses back.

"I feel angry and bitter at the Government, the pharmaceutical companies, the GPs - they all knew about it. I was a healthy normal person before the benzos; I was a good mother but I was robbed of that. I feel so guilty about my kids."

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