Chepstow resident Jade Wilson, 28, has beaten a 10 year addiction to prescription drugs, and during the height of her dependency swallowed 16 tablets a day. Fifteen months sober after finally getting the right support Jade has come full circle, but at her lowest point in October 2017, she attempted to take her own life following an explosive fight with her mother, whom she calls ‘‘her best friend and greatest support’’.
At just 18 Jade underwent a mastoidectomy, a surgical procedure 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 medication 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 sustained use of the drug 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, Jade 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 truly 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 anti-depressant that I can’t recall. I’d swallowed 3000mg of tablets in one go and it was a miracle I survived.’’
After the suicide attempt and in desperate need of help Jade was medically assessed, but was crushed to hear that she would not meet the criteria for urgent mental health support until she had made 5 more attempts to take her life.
She continued ‘’I felt hopeless at this point. I was starting to realise that 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 in 2017, and from there things slowly started to get better.’’
The GDAS is led by drug and alcohol charity Kaleidoscope, and provides direct support and to individuals and families struggling with drugs, alcohol and poor mental health. The service supports roughly 1200 people across Gwent.
For almost 2 years Jade has been receiving Buprenorhphine on a weekly basis, an alternative treatment for opiate dependency such as methadone, which is given daily.
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.’’
September marks national Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people in recovery. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with substance misuse or poor mental health, support is available. Please get in touch with Kaleidoscope by visiting their website at https://www.kaleidoscopeproject.org.uk/ or calling 01686 207111