Valium Addiction - Hugh’s Story
By his wife and carer Therese
When I first met Hugh he was a very kind outgoing and very reliable young man who had served his apprenticeship as a motor mechanic and done his two years National Service before we got married in 1963. We had our first daughter on 25/1/1966,and our second daughter on 25/6/1967. Hugh had a nervous breakdown in 1968, due to overwork and stress and lack of sleep. At the time he was working on an assembly line with General Motor’s. He was admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital where he was stabilised on Valium and Allegron. When he was discharged he had a letter saying he was controlled on Valium and would need to take it for the rest of his life! Over a short time he became anxious and had panic attack’s he then started to drink along with the Valium to calm his mind. We had our third daughter on 19/8/1971, but by this time Hugh had very little interest in what was going on in family life he just worked and drank I felt like a one parent family, although deep down Hugh cared about his family. He never kept us short of money, looking back I can understand his year’s of drinking as it helped him cope with the anxiety and panic and side effects from Valium. Hugh managed to give up the drink in 1986 and to this day he has never touched a drop, but he still had to cope with the panic and anxiety.
In 1996 we got in touch with C.I.T.A.(The Council For Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction) in Liverpool, they were a great help to us. We purchased a book and tape from them and Hugh decided he was going to try to withdraw from Valium. It started off fine but after having been on the drug for 28 years with repeat prescription’s, the withdrawals became horrendous and he was admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital where in all he spent 18 months. During this time Consultants tried hard to stabilise him with a concoction of different drugs without success. At one point they had to drip feed him as he refused to eat he just wanted to die, then they decided they would try electric shock treatment which they did. They gave him 12 treatments at the time Hugh wanted me to get them to stop he told me they were” blowing the head” off him. I did not think the treatment had worked but they did, I was against further shock treatment, so then they sectioned him and went ahead with another 12 shock treatments against my wishes, which did not help.
After reading Peter Ritson’s book Alive and Kicking I knew the only way to stabilise Hugh was to go back on Valium and try again but trying to convince the Consultants was a different story they thought they would be betraying Hugh if they put him back on Valium however after months of second opinions they agreed to give it a try as Hugh had no quality of life as he was. After a few weeks back on Valium Hugh began to come out of his zombie state and respond to people about him. He was then discharged from hospital into my care with his medication of mind altering drugs as prescribed 15 mg Valium, 1200mg Lithium and 225mg Effexor xl daily and received no regular blood checks for his Lithium level nor any blood pressure checks for the Effexor he was taking. We had a Psychiatric nurse every two weeks who was a great help, but there are no support groups in Scotland, the nearest I could find was C.I.T.A. in Liverpool who were a tremendous support as they were the only ones who understood what we were going through. Our major break through was when Hugh’s Consultant was changed to a young Consultant who understood tranquilliser addiction. He slowly withdrew Hugh from Lithium first then Effexor, then he started to withdraw the Valium by 1mg every two months he is down to 8 mg now and still has a long way to go, but at the present he is much more in control of his life and is able to get through the many difficult withdrawal side affects. This prescribed drug has ruined the biggest part of our lives and our daughters whole young lives, we have four young grandsons aged from four to ten and Hugh has only began to take an interest in them in the last 18 months sadly through no fault of his own he has missed so much in life.
This is a just brief summary of Hugh’s life however I have kept a diary for the last twenty five years which details the full account of daily events.
Forum Disclaimer SiteMap Home Contact us The Ashton Manual