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I have suffered from anxiety all of my life but have refused medication. A few months ago a series of life events led to my anxiety levels skyrocket so I sought medical advice. I was put on valium, a highly addictive anxiolytic designed for short term use only. It worked instantly and without any side effects or ‘highs’ that some people get from it. So high were my anxiety levels that the valium didn’t even make me drowsy. I noticed no ill effects whatsoever….but they were lurking in the shadows.

Several weeks after being put on valium I injured my back  badly. After several attempts with alternative analgesia, my doctor was left with no option but to put me on codeine. ‘Great!’ I thought. Another addictive drug. Just what I need. Like valium, the codeine seemed to have no side effects….but it was still effective.

I began to find myself becoming confused. I would forget where I had left my wallet. I couldn’t remember, at the end of the day, if I had had a shower or not. I wondered why I was running out of groceries and spent my days watching television and smoking cigarettes.

Once my back complaint had resolved I knew that I had to stop taking the codeine. I found myself taking it just for the sake of taking it. One day, in a moment of clarity I threw the codeine in thee bin. I spent the next three days going through withdrawals. I was extremely agitated and restless, my mind would race, I had trouble sleeping and a range of other symptoms that subsided after 72 long hours during which time I was in no fit state to leave the house.

Codeine is no longer a part of my life. Valium on the other hand is.

My anxiety levels remain high without valium and I do not seem to have developed a tolerance to it so I guess I will just have to wait until my next doctors visit. I would like to be off the drug but it is not for me to decide. One cannot simply stop taking valium cold turkey as the effects are much more severe than that of codeine. You have to be weaned off the drug and this is, through time, I am  hoping for.

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