"There was a lot of trauma I hadn’t processed, and the Tramadol had meant I didn’t have to. It had numbed me for too long and I knew I needed support."
Jade, 28, has beaten a 10 year addiction to the prescription drug, Tramadol. Since getting the right support she has come full circle and is now fifteen months sober. During the height of her dependency she swallowed 16 tablets a day, and in October 2017 attempted to take her own life following an explosive fight with her mother, whom she calls ‘‘her best friend and greatest support’’.
A Dangerous Prescription
At just 18 Jade underwent a mastoidectomy, an operation that involves opening a part of the skull below the ear to remove infected air cells, but complications followed and Jade was prescribed Tramadol, a strong opiate to treat severe pain. Her use of the drug was not professionally reviewed for several years, and without knowing it, Jade had become seriously addicted.
In 2017, Jade worked with a GP concerned by her prescription to slowly lower her dose, and at first things felt promising. A few weeks later though, Jade’s mental health declined rapidly. Recalling this time in her life, she said ‘‘I was not myself at all, something just switched. Anyone who knows me sees how close I am with my mother, but that night I smashed the house to pieces and gripped her by the throat. It’s frightening. When addiction takes a hold of you it’s as if who you really are disappears. Later that evening I overdosed on Tramadol, Pregablin and another antidepressant that I can’t recall. I’d swallowed 3000mg of tablets in one go and it was a miracle I survived.’’
She continued ‘‘I felt hopeless and began to realise I’d relied on Tramadol to block out painful memories. My father left when I was 6 and I lost my only brother aged 9, there was a lot of trauma I hadn’t processed, and the Tramadol had meant I didn’t have to. It had numbed me for too long and I knew I needed support. Following my admission to hospital I was seriously ill for the next four weeks, that’s when I got referred to Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service for treatment, and from there things slowly started to get better.’’
Our GDAS project provides direct support to individuals and families struggling with drugs, alcohol and poor mental health. The service supports roughly 1200 people across Gwent.
Back on Track
For almost 2 years Jade has been receiving the opiate substitute therapy Buprenorhphine on a weekly basis.
Jade added: ‘‘I feel like I’ve got my life back on track now, and I haven’t suffered a single relapse since I started with Buprenorphine. I’m much more in control and my key worker Helen has really helped me to piece things back together. For a long time I felt I was being moved from pillar to post, I met with many professionals but there just wasn’t enough consistency. I think to properly get better you need that, someone you can trust and rely on to steer you through recovery. Now I’m hopeful about the future.’’