I have no idea if you have ever realised who I am, but to summarise, as far as I am aware I am the only person in this country who has analysed the history of benzodiazepines and Z drugs and the politics surrounding their use, and then written extensively about it. It is all there in my book and various other writings, backed up by authoratative evidence you presumably would accept if you had read it. But you seem not to have read it (including the pieces I sent you), presumably telling yourself that you did not have the time or perhaps the newspaper would not print it.
The article, whilst good on OTC drugs, made some promising points about benzodiazepines but they were almost completely unfocused and without conclusions. Incidentally, you might have mentioned that many people end up on painkillers because of the physical effects of benzodiazepines but perhaps you were not aware of that. As you know very well, I do not believe in the real effectiveness of personal stories (or government would have been forced into action by now) and I told you that I would only agree to talk to you if you stressed the political points. I said this to you in my email:
"I must stress that the important point in this is the political background and not my personal story...."
What do I find in the article? What I found was a somewhat inaccurate personal story (very shortened) and a cobbled together quote. What of this that I sent you is reflected in the piece?
Head of Department in a Primary school at 25. ‘Mentioned in despatches’ by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools (which I was told was a rare thing). Overworked and went to doctor. Addicted after a few months. Ran out of pills one day which had dire mental effects. I was coming out of it after a couple of days but a new doctor I had seen at the surgery ‘kindly’ brought another bottle of Valium from the pharmacist when he came to see me at home and so the addiction continued. He obviously had no idea that what he had seen was withdrawal.
Things went from bad to worse and eventually I resigned. I was given antidepressants and applied to return to teaching after a few weeks. This was successful but I had lost my previous role and was sent to a new school as an ordinary teacher. I managed to carry on until 38 when I resigned on grounds of ill health and have not been able to work since.
During the whole of this time (25-38) I was given 17 mind altering drugs and a variety of other drugs for physical symptoms caused by tranquillisers. For roughly ten years afterwards I virtually existed in a bedroom and never went out.
I found out what the problem with my life and health was quite by accident. Somewhere around age 52 we changed our car insurance policy and I was asked the question of whether I was taking any medication. I gave chapter and verse and my driving licence was taken away by a drug misuse committee which appalled me. I went to the doctor’s and said I wanted to get my licence back. The only role the doctor had in this was to provide prescriptions for reducing amounts of Valium (diazepam) and Zopiclone. At the same time I stopped taking antidepressants. Getting off took about two years. Shortly afterwards withdrawal symptoms began to appear, most of which the medical profession as a whole does not recognise because Pharma hasn’t owned to them and they have never been researched. Many of these symptoms have remained with me including exhaustion, permanent insomnia, joint and muscle pain making walking difficult and a variety of sensory problems. The symptoms I now have are quite different to the ones I had when taking prescriptions but they remain unrecognised in spite of an absence of research that demonstrates no link. These symptoms are commonly reported by patients as are the common symptoms experienced when taking tranquilliser/hypnotics but make no waves in medicine.
I did not find any reference to what I have done since coming off the drugs nor to the fact that I have had no normal life since the age of 25 (and neither has my wife). There was no mention of benzo.org.uk where my writing is found alongside the biggest benzodiazepine library on the internet.
I have campaigned against a background of ill health and lack of money for seven long years and I have demonstrated beyond any doubt the cover-up that government, pharmaceutical companies and medicine has organised. Benzodiazepines are not ' a new drug problem' - this scandal has been taking place for 50 years. Use of the internet to buy drugs and OTC addiction may be a relatively new problem but iatrogenic addiction is not.
To give just one example of where you failed the victims of benzodiazepines by not making the political point, you referred to the CMO's 2004 reminder to doctors. You did not mention that Ray Nimmo, Heather Ashton (whom you quote elsewhere) and others, regard this reminder as disastrous for patients. Heather Ashton, who knows far more about benzodiazepines than the CMO offered to help with the wording of the reminder but was ignored. The reaction of many doctors was to abruptly stop patient's prescriptions leaving them to either source the drugs elsewhere if they could (including the internet) or failing that to be precipitated into abrupt and dangerous withdrawal. Note The reminder was only sent because of campaigner representation at the Department of Health.
Associating benzodiazepine prescribing with OTC medicines was never a good idea as I told Brian Iddon - the two problems are completely separate - one is a scandal and the other somewhat less than that involving personal responsibility. I imagined that having told you of that and my desire that you should examine the politics and failures behind the 50 years of benzodiazepines, that I was steering the article in the right direction. But I was wrong. What you have done in the end is ensure that I will never speak to a journalist again. This of course matters little in a country which seems not to want to face up to reality. Government Minister Phil Woolas once said:
"The scale of the [benzodiazepine] problem is so large...that it is beyond the grasp of many politicians and people in power to solve it...you have this huge problem with a huge number of people involved and yet we seem as a society to be incapable of acting on it. We can only cope with problems that are so big...we can't cope with this one."