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SWEATING and shaking uncontrollably on the street, Miranda Levy nervously checked her watch as she waited to get her palms on the medication her physique so badly craved.
However the mum-of-two wasn’t ready for a vendor to promote her an unlawful ‘hit’ – she was standing outdoors her native pharmacy on a Monday morning, determined to get some Valium.
Mum-of-two Miranda Levy, from Essex, become a ‘zombie’ after getting hooked on prescribed drugs
Although her prescription for the sedative had run out simply hours earlier, Miranda was already feeling the horrifying withdrawal results – from physique aches and panic to an lack of ability to cease shaking.
It sounds dramatic, however Miranda is tragically removed from alone.
McFly star Dougie Poynter bravely revealed this week that he suffered a terrifying habit to Valium, admitting he can’t bear in mind the 2 years of his life he was hooked on the drug.
The bassist, 32, who went to rehab in 2018, instructed The Solar: “It’s a slope that you simply don’t actually realise you’re slipping down till it’s too late. Then climbing out of that gap is a really, very lengthy course of.”
McFly star Dougie Poynter, who’s courting mannequin Maddy Elmer, has bravely opened up about his Valium habitCredit score: Getty – Contributor
Specialists say 1.5million Brits are hooked on benzodiazepines (file image)Credit score: Getty – Contributor
It is a horrendous ordeal that Miranda is aware of all too nicely. Like Dougie, she spent years in a drugged-up blur – and was even left housebound – as well being professionals ‘stored upping’ her dose of prescribed drugs.
“For 5 years or so I used to be a zombie. I misplaced my job. I didn’t see my mates,” she tells us.
A surprising 1.5million Brits are hooked on benzodiazepines, that are a sort of tranquilliser drug together with Valium, Ambien and Xanax, in keeping with the UK Habit Remedy Centre (UKAT).
They’re typically prescribed for anxiousness, insomnia and seizures.
Simply since you hand over a little bit of inexperienced paper and get your medication in a blister pack doesn’t make sure varieties much less harmful than avenue medication
Figures present round 12 million prescriptions for the extremely addictive and controversial drug are issued a yr – with 55.2 per cent of those that have misused them getting them from the physician.
“Simply since you hand over a little bit of inexperienced paper and get your medication in a blister pack doesn’t make sure varieties much less harmful than a substance you should buy on the road,” provides Miranda.
Horrifyingly, a latest research even revealed ladies who take these type of medication earlier than changing into pregnant could also be at elevated danger of ectopic pregnancy – when the fertilised egg implants itself outdoors the womb.
Dougie cannot bear in mind the 2 years of his life he was hooked on Valium. Above, Dougie, second left, with McFly bandmates Tom Fletcher, Harry Judd and Danny JonesCredit score: Getty – Contributor
Black market sellers money in with lethal batches
But whereas all consultants can agree the medication, often known as diazepam, are extraordinarily addictive and shouldn’t be taken long-term, this doesn’t suggest Brits aren’t given repeat prescriptions.
It additionally does not cease folks resorting to the lethal black market.
In Scotland, a string of deadly overdoses have been linked to ‘avenue Valium’ – whereas consultants have warned of batches of fake drugs flooding into the UK as extra Brits self-medicate on-line.
And final December, an inquest heard how an English teen stepped out in front of a lorry and was killed immediately after taking an unlawful extra-strength anxiousness drug.
Grace Brockelsby, 19, was struck by the truck in Boston, Lincolnshire, after taking Etizolam – a banned capsule accessible on the web which is often known as ‘avenue Valium’.
Grace Brockelsby, 19, stepped in entrance of a lorry after taking an unlawful extra-strength anxiousness drug, an inquest heard
The teenager, who had taken Etizolam, or ‘avenue Valium’, was killed immediatelyCredit score: Fb
Away from the black market, Valium is usually seen as a socially acceptable drug – and one a bunch of celebrities together with Katie Worth and Kerry Katona have confessed to taking in small, legally-prescribed doses.
However Abbas Kanani, a pharmacist from Chemist Click, warns: “The primary challenge with sedatives is that they’re addictive in nature and after some time, your physique relies on them.
“Withdrawal results can embrace restlessness, anxiousness and complications and if addictive sedatives are withdrawn abruptly, these side-effects will likely be extra intense, and also can embrace seizures and psychosis.”
Folks forge prescriptions by stealing medical doctors’ prescription pads, or by making an attempt to jot down non-public prescriptions themselves
Desperation means folks resort to excessive measures to pay money for them – whereas criminals have been caught producing a whole lot of hundreds of kilos’ value of illicit medication.
“Folks forge prescriptions by stealing medical doctors’ prescription pads, or by making an attempt to jot down non-public prescriptions themselves,” Abbas provides.
“I’ve seen expired prescriptions for diazepam which have had the date smudged. Folks will do that to feed their very own habit, or to promote illegally.
“Months in the past, we acquired an alert that a lot of diazepam tablets (amongst different medication) had been stolen from a wholesalers warehouse.
“The issue is big.”
A number of celebrities, together with Katie Worth, have confessed to taking Valium in small, legally-prescribed doses prior to now
Cops swooped on a medication manufacturing facility in Renfrewshire, Scotland, the place criminals have been churning out hundreds of thousands of killer ‘avenue Valium’ tabletsCredit score: COURTESY OF CROWN OFFICE
James Carroll and Michael Shek – who have been jailed for a complete of 9 years this July – ran a lab which produced the tablets on a large scale.Credit score: COURTESY OF CROWN OFFICE
‘I simply wished to sleep’
Due to the addictive nature of Valium, the NHS recommends it’s taken for a most of 4 weeks. Nevertheless, this is not at all times adhered to.
For Miranda, 52, from Essex, her ordeal first began when she went to the physician in 2010, after her husband of 9 years referred to as time on their marriage.
“I had a dreadful insomnia,” she says.
“Naturally I used to be distressed, and was anxious about how I’d handle as a single mum.
“After a few nights with no sleep in any way, I noticed my native GP, who dashed off a two-week prescription for a sleeping capsule referred to as Temazepam. It didn’t work – even once I took double the dose.
I used to be on a repeat prescription for round 4 years, and he stored ‘upping’ the dose
“I used to be signed off work and referred to a psychiatrist, who put me on a Valium-related drug referred to as Clonazepam, and later Valium itself.”
She provides: “These medication must be prescribed on the lowest dose attainable, for a most of 4 weeks. I knew they have been addictive, however I did not care at that time, I simply wished to sleep.
“I used to be on a repeat prescription for round 4 years, and he stored ‘upping’ the dose.”
Miranda’s behavior developed after her marriage got here to an finish in 2010
What the NHS says about Valium
DIAZEPAM, often known as Valium, must be taken for as brief a time frame as attainable, the NHS says.
The drug, which belongs to a gaggle of medicines referred to as benzodiazepines, is used to deal with anxiousness, insomnia, muscle spasms and seizures.
It can be utilized in hospital to cut back alcohol withdrawal signs.
Diazepam is simply accessible on prescription, and is available in pill or liquid kind. It could actually additionally are available a rectal tube or be given as an injection in hospital.
In accordance with the NHS, it “isn’t more likely to be addictive in the event you take it at a low dose for a short while” – between two and 4 weeks.
But the service provides: “You are extra more likely to get addicted in case you have, or beforehand had, issues with alcohol or medication.”
A latest research urged ladies who take benzodiazepines earlier than changing into pregnant could also be at elevated danger of ectopic being pregnant.
And whereas the NHS web site says there’s not sufficient info to know whether or not diazepam is secure to make use of throughout being pregnant, it warns it “can provide your new child child withdrawal signs”.
For extra info on Valium, click on here
Terrifying ‘blur’ that wipes out years
Miranda, who needs to warn others of the hazards of prescription drug habit, confesses that the subsequent few years turned a blur, including: “For a very good yr I didn’t even go away the home – I simply stared on the TV.”
Her feedback echo these of McFly’s Dougie, who told The Sun this week that the time he spent hooked on Valium was “unusual” and a “enormous blur” that he cannot bear in mind.
Two years simply went as like a bizarre dream. Popping out the opposite finish was like, ‘What? The place’s my band?’
“That’s one thing which is admittedly exhausting to come back to phrases with, actually shedding two years. Two years simply went as like a bizarre dream,” admitted the star, who’s courting mannequin Maddy Elmer.
“Popping out the opposite finish was like, ‘What? The place’s my band?’”
Fortuitously, bandmate Harry intervened and inspired Dougie to go to rehab after he realised “how one can die in the event you don’t get assist coming off it in a managed atmosphere with medical help”.
Bassist Dougie received I’m A Superstar in 2011Credit score: ITV
In Miranda’s case, the medication she was taking proved so addictive it turned almost unimaginable to wean herself off. The turning level got here after her agonising wait outdoors the chemist’s, determined to get her prescription.
“After some time, it’s essential to take extra to get the identical calming impact, and whenever you take the extras, you run out too early,” she recollects.
“For those who immediately cease taking these tablets, you get extreme withdrawal signs, which might be deadly. Even in the event you miss a dose, you are feeling horrible.”
‘I believed I used to be going mad’
She provides: “I knew this state of affairs couldn’t proceed.
“I took myself to the native Drug and Alcohol service, and noticed a beautiful feminine advisor, who helped me to provide you with a ‘tapering’ plan which meant daily, I took a smaller dose till you are off the tablets altogether.
“I had many false-starts the place the bodily cravings meant I stored giving up on my discount programme. Finally, I did it far too shortly.
“The afternoon I lastly ‘jumped off’, I’ll always remember – so acute was my anxiousness, I believed I used to be going mad. I recall mendacity on the ground or our spare room, curled up in a ball, moaning.
“I harm from head to foot, I felt sick, the Earth tilted alarmingly.”
Round 12 million prescriptions for the extremely addictive and controversial medication are issued a yr – with 55.2 per cent of those that have misused them getting them from the physician
For sufferers who cannot cease taking sedatives or have not had a ‘turning level’ like Miranda, a physician’s refusal to supply a prescription can immediate them to resort to determined measures.
That is when harmful ‘black market’ purchases may be made.
“Over a million unlawful diazepam tablets have been seized inside the final yr,” says pharmacist Abbas.
“Individuals who begin to take greater than they need to will often be refused provide from their medical doctors and in an try and feed habit, they flip to the black market, both on-line, or from a vendor.
“As a result of there isn’t any regulation when medication are obtained this manner, portions usually are not monitored which may result in an overdose leading to loss of life. The authenticity of remedy sought on the black market can also be questionable.”
Addictive sedatives embrace Valium and Xanax
Mum’s horror at dodgy tablets
Final yr, a British teenager almost died after taking a dodgy Valium pill that was allegedly laced ‘with a drug as much as 50 occasions extra highly effective than heroin’.
The lad’s distraught mum shared a heartbreaking image of him in hospital on social media, writing: “If we hadn’t discovered him once we did, God forbid what may have occurred.
“Please, please warn your children to say no to medication.”
And Abbas continues: “Undoubtedly, there are counterfeit tablets being offered as originals which may trigger appreciable hurt. There isn’t any official documentation to show the place the remedy got here from, or what’s inside.
“These medication could cause critical side-effects and appreciable hurt to well being. Throughout raids, medication being offered illegally as diazepam have been discovered to include fentanyl, a painkiller that’s stronger than morphine.”
A British teenager almost died after taking a dodgy Valium pill final yr. Above, the lad in a heartbreaking image shared by his mum
One other image from the Renfrewshire medication manufacturing facility bustCredit score: COURTESY OF CROWN OFFICE
As we speak, following her courageous resolution to get assist, Miranda has been off her remedy for almost two years and has revived her friendships.
However whereas she has her life again on observe, she needs extra to be carried out to assist others going by way of their very own nightmare ordeals.
“Thank god I got here out of it,” she says.
“There should be extra measures in place to assist folks like me – stricter prescribing insurance policies for GPs, and help reminiscent of helplines.”
For extra info on the place to get help and recommendation, go to: talktofrank.com