Volunteers

What do our volunteers say about BAT?

GRAEME FURNESS

My first experience with benzos was after a 4 day festival. I’d had no sleep and I couldn’t calm down. My friend suggested I try a valium – I was scared at first but then I gave in and within 30 minutes I felt great.  All my worries had melted away.

 I didn’t really think about them again until about a year later when I got anxious and depressed and straight away I remembered how the valium had fixed my feelings. I found somebody that sold them – after getting home I took 2, the next night 3 then 4. I continued to use various benzos but all along my tolerance to these drugs was getting greater and greater. During this time I’d started taking opiates recreationally as well, as they also helped my anxiety and ongoing sleep issues. In November 2015 I had my first drug overdose; I woke up in hospital after falling over and seriously injuring my arm. I told myself it was time to stop but after a couple of days I started to feel unwell and really anxious so I knew what to do and took my valium. At this point I was taking ten times as much as I’d first tried just to feel “normal”.

 I decided to let myself run out of my valium to try and stop in the middle of a busy shift at work. I had my first grand mal seizure and I woke up in hospital once again. I still couldn’t admit to myself I had a problem – after all, they were only prescription drugs and loads of people I know took them.

 After suffering my third overdose in 2 years I finally asked for help. I was slowly brought off all the benzodiazepines, the withdrawals were very difficult because I still had no one to speak to about what it was like to have a problem with these drugs. I just needed somebody to tell me it was going to be okay and that they understand what I’m going through. I decided I had to move away and start again after being in Bristol a few months I decided to look for some voluntary work where I discovered BAT. They offer great support to people that are in any stage of benzo use – if I’d known the help they could offer my journey coming off benzos would have been so much easier.

 I am now 3 years off all benzos and opiates, and I’m now volunteering with BAT working on the helpline, and currently studying for my counselling degree

DAVE DICKSvolunteer_dave_dicks

Dave’s addiction to Benzodiazepines started in 1973 when he was prescribed Diazepam in his early 20’s.

Over the next 27 years his life deteriorated and he suffered numerous breakdowns, thousands of anxiety attacks and many other physical and mental conditions he had previously not suffered from. He was seen by many different doctors and referred to 6 Psychiatrists and numerous Psychologists. All of them without exception told Dave that he had a mental health problem, that he needed the medication ‘like a diabetic needs insulin’ and that he would be on it for the rest of his life.

A new doctor came to Dave’s surgery – at her first meeting with Dave she found him collapsed at the bottom of the stairs, crying uncontrollably. She told Dave that she believed the tablets were probably not helping, and if he was willing to try to come off them she would get him professional help, and would work in partnership with him.

On my next appointment Dave told his GP he would give it a try, although he was very scared, and following on from this he had a phone call from Una Corbett, telling him about Battle Against Tranquillisers.

Over the next 13 years Dave had to battle probably 99% of known symptoms and others not detailed. He has had many setbacks, but his life has gradually improved.

On the 11th December 2013 Dave finally stopped taking the Benzodiazepines that had plagued his life for over 40 years.

Dave is a very active volunteer – he is our ‘service user voice’ and accompanies Una to stakeholder events. He has been instrumental in so many things, including the meetings at the British Medical Association which culminated in the production of the Addiction to Medicines Consensus Statement.

 Would you like to volunteer for BAT?

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