It’s time people woke up to Stilnox rather than abusing it to go to sleep. My true story from 2010 re-posted

I keep hearing people say that we need to learn the lesson from Michael Jackson’s death! So what lesson is that? I believe the lesson is that the medical profession worldwide need to be held accountable for the drugs they prescribe – firstly being the right one’s for the right reasons, and secondly for the subsequent abuse of them by their patients. Just as a pub will be fined or shut down if something tragic happens to a patron who they over sell alcohol to. They are accountable to notice there is a problem, and nip it in the bud!

Two years ago I had to admit my mother into rehab after I realised she had become addicted to stilnox over a seven year period! Now ask any doctor or chemist and they will tell you that they’re not addictive, but what I know for certain that it was my mother who had to spend a Christmas propped up in a rehabilitation centre for over a month because instead of celebrate that year, I was visiting her in a place no one ever wants to see someone they love, least of all at Christmas! I cried every time I left.

Why did she end up on them? She was prescribed them to sleep during the time my nana, her mother was dying in hospital which went on for weeks. Understandably she was unable to sleep, and full of sadness and anxiety. Why did she continue to take them? I think because, as many other people out there, she had some pain and sadness that had built up over the years, and then became more intense after she saw her take mum her final breath! It’s a vicious circle because anxiety creates lack of sleep, and lack of sleep makes the pain harder to deal with.

Over the course of the seven year period I watched her turn into someone I didn’t know anymore, let alone one that felt like a mum. She sadly lost a lot of dignity during this time, and wouldn’t remember a lot of what she’d done. Rather than cringe with embarrassment and admit to a problem she’d laugh it off and joke that her friends called her eccentric! I hate to be blunt but there’s a difference between junkie and eccentric!

I refused to turn a blind eye to her behaviour, and I refused to let her destroy her life! I demanded I go to doctor’s appointments with her because I knew she was lying to me about how often she was getting her pills and quite frankly, wanted to know if the doctors she was seeing were aware or had bothered to realize that they were dealing with what was a manipulative addict! I remember seeing mum walk into her chemist one day so I waited till she left and headed in to ask the chemist a few questions! “Was a lady called Beverley Harper just in here?” The man nodded. “So tell me, would you say that stilnox is addictive?” “No, it’s not!” he said. “So how do you explain my mother coming in here every couple of weeks for nearly seven years and needing hundreds of these ‘non addictive’ pills?” “I have no idea madam!” he said sheepishly. Trying not to lose it and cry I said “I hope the drug company is paying you enough to make you sleep at night, and still be able to look me in the eye and tell me this disgusting drug isn’t addictive! I’ve nearly lost my mum! Have a good day!”

Through Michael’s death I hope the lesson we take is that people in pain will abuse themselves further because subconsciously they don’t like or care about themselves anymore. Simply looking down on a person for taking so many drugs is not enough, nor really makes sense. These people are not of sound mind anymore. They are sick and the people that have the power to treat them, need to treat them with a lot more care!

31 thoughts on “It’s time people woke up to Stilnox rather than abusing it to go to sleep. My true story from 2010 re-posted

  1. Hi Amber,

    I read your above post with sympathy, but can i politely disagree with you in your view that the pharmacist is just out to get money from patients. My husband is a pharmacist and is so caring and passionate, he also is frustrated over repeat prescriptions from GP’s who provide quick ‘in and out’ consultations. So many times, my husband has advised patients to come off their medication or consider alternatives. Pharmacists have a duty of care to provide medicine that is prescribed by the doctor, if your mother was denied another type of medication that she really needed but a pharmacist did not agree with her taking it, then I am sure the argument would be very different. Certianly, Stilnox has been shown to have many negative side effects, as do many other medications. Ultimately, patients and doctors need to have these discussions at the onset before giving these to patients. Grief counselling should have been something offered to your mum, not medications.

    • Sarah you are right – and yes, grief counselling would have been exactly what she needed. But you’re right, I guess it’s not the pharmacists fault if the prescription is already signed. Mum was very tricky with getting prescriptions and would have about 3 doctors on the go. But what made me so angry was that to my knowledge she always went to the same guys to get them made up, and he absolutely must have known she was in there every couple of weeks. Maybe a phone call to her doctor or something should have been done. I don’t know……….

  2. Hi Amber
    I do agree with you on this subject and it is one close to my heart, several members of my family suffer from addiction.
    Addiction to prescription and over the counter medications has been on the increase. The national drugs and poisons committee recently made changes to all medications containing codeine. No longer can you buy Nurofen Plus and Panadeine over the counter without seeing the pharmacist and having your name recorded. Codeine is a narcotic that falls into the category of opiates and is turned into morphine by the body in order to be utilized properly. Codeine is derived from the opium poppy and is related to morphine and heroin. The medical profession has known about the addictive nature of these drugs for many years. I’ve been told that in the US you can only get codeine by prescription. My question is why have we ever been able to get these drugs over the counter? If these drugs had not been so easy to obtain there would not be some many people addicted to them in the first place. The new changes will not stop addicts, those addicted to pain medications will just shop around from one chemist to the next and not all chemists are following the procedures I have mentioned.
    It is my opinion that any drug that can cause an altered state of consciousness can become addictive. I believe stilnox has a sedative effect similar to that of other sedatives like vallium. Sedatives are addictive so why should stilnox be any different. The more you use these drugs the more your body adjusts to them and then the more you need to take to get the desired effect it’s a vicious cycle.
    Unfortunately when it comes to drug addiction or alcoholism the vast majority of people have no compassion and they truly do not understand this disease.
    People who have developed a dependency on prescription or pain medications did not set out to become an addict they took these drugs under the advice of doctors for legitimate health reasons.
    You are correct when you say that looking down your nose at addicts is not the answer. Not everyone who has an addiction is a criminal, living of welfare and sleeping in bus shelters and this seems to be the opinion of the vast majority who have no understanding of this illness.
    Telling an addict to stop taking their drug of choice is like telling someone with depression to just get over it. If it were that simple addiction would not exist, no one wants to be an addict it ruins lives. They are many drugs that you can’t just stop taking the withdrawals can be dangerous. It is the fear of withdrawals, shame and embarrassment that prevent many addicts from getting the help they need. Addiction is an illness and I hope in future that society can accept that those suffering this disease deserve the same treatment and support as those suffering any other kind of illness.
    I am happy that your Mum has overcome her addiction. Addiction affects the whole family; No one wants to see their loved one on a self destructive path and I am sure this was a distressing time for you.

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